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Folk - Lore 




[Incorporating The Archaeological Review and 
The Folk-Lore Journal.] 

VOL. III.— 1892. 






I. — (March 1892.) 


Opening Address to the Folk-Lore Society for the Session 

1891-92. G. L. GOMME - - - - I 

The Lai of Eliduc and the Marchen of Little Snow- White. 

Alfred Nutt - - - - - 26 

Magic Songs of the Finns, IV. Hon. JOHN Abercromby - 49 

Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs. Rev. Walter Gregor 67 

Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions, II. Prof John Rhys - 74 

Discussion - - - - - - 88 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. Rev. D. Elmslie - 92 
Report on Folk-tale Research, 1890-91. E. Sidney Hart- 
land - - - - - - III 

Folk-Lore Society. Fourteenth Annual Report of the Council 130 

II.— (June 1892.) 

The Sin-Eater. E Sidney Hartland - - - 145 

Samoan Tales, II. Hon. John Abercromby - - 158 
German Christmas and the Christmas-Tree. Dr. Alexander 

TiLLE - - - - - - 166 

The Baker of Beauly : a Highland version of the Tale of the 

" Three Precepts". Alex. MacBain and W. A. Clouston 183 
Divination among the Malagasy, together with Native Ideas as 

to Fate and Destiny. Rev. Jas. Sibree - - 193 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Mrs. Eliza GUTCH - - 227 
" First Foot" in the British Isles. Prof John Rhys and 

T. W. E. Higgens - - - - 253 

Folk-Lore Society. Proceedings at Evening Meetings - 272 

III. — (September 1892.) 

Queries as to Dr. Tylor's Views on Animism. J. S. Stuart- 

Glennie ..... 289 

An Analysis of Certain Finnish Myths of Origin. Hon. JOHN 

Abercromby ..... 308 

Bantu Customs and Legends. Rev. JAINIES Macdonald - 337 

Importance du Folk-lore pour les Etudes de I'Ancien Fran^ais. 

M. Wilmotte . . . - - 360 

iv Contents. 

Folk-lore Miscellanea. Prof. John Rhys - - - 375 

Celtic Myth and Saga. Report upon the Progress of Research 

during the past two years. Alfred Nutt - - 387 

IV. — (December 1892.) 

The Easter Hare. Chas. J. BiLLSON - - - 441 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. Edited and translated by 

Whitley Stokes .... 467 

Index to Places - - - - - 516 

Balochi Tales, I. M. Longworth Dames - - 5 '7 

Recent Greek Archeology in its relation to Folk-lore. Cecil 

Smith --..-. 529 
Title-page and Contents for Vol. III. 

Notes and News - - - 139, 270, 433, 554 

Review : Paul's Grundriss. Alfred Nutt - - 425 
Correspondence : 

Chained Images, Miss G. M. Godden - - - 137 
The Widow's Son ; and Greek Folk-lore, Miss L. M. 

Garnett ..... 265 

Ethnologists and Anthropologists, J. S. Stuart-Glennie - 267 

Branchos, A. E. Crawley - - - - 267 

The Buck's Leap, Miss C. S. Burne - - - 427 

The Flat-foot Question, Karl Blind - - - 429 

Chained Images, E. S. Hartland - - - 546 
Mr. Hartland's " Sin-Eater", and Primitive Sacraments, 

Miss G. M. Godden - - - - 546 

Christmas Mummers, T. F. Ordish ... 550 
Folk-Songs and Music, Miss L. E. Broadwood - "551 

Errata in the September Number - - - 553 

Miscellanea : 

Churn Charm, and Sympathetic Bees, Alfred Nutt - 138 

Exorcism in Wales, GRIFFITH Evans - - - 274 

The Three Precepts : a Norse Variant, W. A. Clouston - 556 

Folk-lore from South-East Suffolk, Lady Camilla Gurdon 558 

Folk-lore Bibliography - - 141, 278, 435, 561 

Indexes : Articles — Bibliography - - - 569 


Vol. III.] MARCH, 1892. [No. I. 


I BELIEVE the remark has been made on other occa- 
sions, by other Presidents, that the Society might 
have done much better by electing some one more fitted to 
fill the post than the individual chosen. Other Presidents 
in other Societies, and in this Society, have disproved 
their own assertion by the benefits they have conferred 
upon the bodies who elected them ; and I certainly must 
pause to observe that under our late President this Society 
gained a distinction and a place which even in the courtly 
hands of Earl Beauchamp and the friendly hands of the 
Earl of Verulam it had not previously obtained. I think 
Mr. Lang's services cannot be counted by the number of 
times he attended the meetings, the practical assistance he 
rendered in organisation, or the addresses with which he 
favoured the Society. It is by Mr. Lang's place in litera- 
ture and science that we must measure his services to the 
Society, and in my judgment they cannot be overrated. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is difficult to follow such a 
man, even at a distance. All the qualifications I can bring 
for the post are what I will term internal qualifications — 
an intimate knowledge of the Society's affairs, an intense 
love and enthusiasm for the subject it deals with, a strong 
desire to see that subject dealt with adequately and com- 
pletely upon scientific grounds, and upon scientific grounds 
only. I am supported by loyal and kindly colleagues — 

VOL. in. B 

2 The Pi^esident- s Address. 

men who know more of folk-lore than I do, men who are 
as eager votaries in its cause as I am— and with such 
support I do not for an instant doubt that we may look 
to a successful year which shall stamp the Society as 
one of the hardest working of the learned bodies. This 
you must please accept as the key-note of my policy as 
President ; so that by replacing a brilliant President by a 
working President, who could not be brilliant if he tried, 
and who is not going to try, you must expect from him 
only what the change implies — namely, work. 

For there is so much to do — much to do, I mean, in a 
solid, practical way to convince a solid, practical kind of 
world. I will not weary you with a long catalogue of all 
there is to do ; but I can at least indicate the main outlines 
of what appears to me to be absolutely necessary to our 
present position as a Society. I would arrange the several 
departments of our working organisation in somewhat the 
following manner : — 

1. The bringing to light of all the hidden items of folk- 
lore contained in sermons, chronicles, local histories, old 
newspapers, parliamentary blue-books, legal records, crimi- 
nal trials, etc. All this should be brought into the archives 
of the Society by first of all being reprinted in handy form in 
the exact words of the original, without note or comment. 
It forms our first platform, 

2. The completion of the English bibliography of folk- 
lore, so that all books devoted to folk-lore subjects may be 
duly recorded in our archives and the particular subjects 
treated of by them placed before the student, would form 
our second platform. 

3. The collection of all that remains yet uncollected in 
each county of the kingdom would form our third platform. 

Then comes the sifting, arranging, and docketing of 
each separate folk-lore item brought together from these 
three sources, so that all its phases may be before the 
student — its earliest chronological mention, its most primi- 
tive forms, the changes of form in the secondary or later 

The President s Addi'ess. 3 

derivative stages, the geographical distribution of the 
various forms. Finally, there is the arrangement of each 
item in relationship to all other items — the formation, as I 
have before now called it, of the ancient mosaics of folk- 

With such a museum as this to put before the student- 
world commentary and discussion could at last be com- 
menced based upon something like a solid foundation, 
with ample means of checking conclusions and forming 
theory after theory, theory built upon theory, if need be, 
because the original foundation is fact. 

All this, however, involves and implies that the work of 
oral collection is one of the most important of our imme- 
diate duties. We must get it in hand and waiting for the 
printer to make it accessible to all. So long ago as 1852 a 
suggestion was quoted from the Morning CJironick into the 
pages oi Notes and Qnertes, founded by our founder, Mr.W. J. 
Thorns, which is valuable even now : — ''Two young Finnish 
students are wandering through the districts round Tammer- 
fors, for the purpose of collecting and preserving old Finnish 
folk-tales, legends, songs, rimes, etc. Their names are B. 
Paldani and O. Palander .... why do we not follow their 
example? When will some of our accomplished young 
scholars wander over the hills and dales of Merry England 
rescuing from oblivion our rich traditions before they pass 
for ever from among us ? Surely the Society of Anti- 
quaries might arrange similar visits for a similar purpose. 
There is no want of men able and willing to undertake 
the task, only the arranging-hand is wanting. In the mean- 
time, let every man do what he can in his own neighbour- 
hood." And the "noter" of this interesting paragraph, 
Mr. C. D. Lamont of Greenock, expressed his willingness to 
■ aid the cause by contributing to its expenses. 

At last I can quote this with some satisfaction. I have 
had it before me for some time, but only now can I say 
^hat the " arranging-hand" or hands, the men and women 
able and willing to undertake the work, and the contribu- 

t. 2 

4 The President's Address, 

tors towards the expense, all come from our own Society ; 
for a member of our Council, whom I am not at liberty to 
name, expressed to me, not many weeks since, his desire to 
assist by substantial money-aid exactly the same plan that 
Mr. Lamont urged forty years ago. 

But although none of the work of folk-lore has been 
accomplished in the systematic manner which I have just 
sketched, much of what has been done falls in a natural 
sort of way into the ideal plan now proposed — nay, it 
suggests the plan. And what has been accomplished is 
quite sufficient at all events to indicate to the student 
certain landmarks which are fairly well fixed, in spite of 
the different methods and different theories of folk-lorists ; 
and to these landmarks I would chiefly direct your atten- 
tion to-night. 

Of course, we all approach our study with a kind of bias 
in favour of some particular view, and my own bias is 
pretty generally known. I believe that folk-lore supplies 
or the countries of Europe the anthropological data cor- 
responding to what is being collected so assiduously from 
people who are still in the savage and barbarous stage of 
culture. I believe that the sanction upon which folk-lore 
depends — namely, tradition — is diVera causa for its antiquity. 
I believe that everything that owes its existence to tradi- 
tion should be classed as folk-lore, whether belief, usage, or 
custom ; and that each of these sections should be studied 
not separately, as if they had no connection with each 
other, but together, as the results of one common cause in 
human history. 

But with this bias it is easy to see that the first important 
landmark is the influence exerted on traditional belief and 
usage by Christianity. We see clearly enough that the 
heroes and heroines of our folk-tales are certainly not 
Christians, and Christianity is scarcely represented even 
nominally in tales, except those occurring in Slavonic 
countries and in Spain. But these exceptions can be 
accounted for, I think, by facts which at once pronounce 

The President' s Address. 5 

for non-Christian origins. In the meantime cannibalism, 
cruelty, revenge, magic, and other similar qualities, mark 
the characters of the traditional nidrcJien or folk-tale. 

In custom and usage the evidence all points the same 
way. What can be more indicative of a dual system of 
belief than the cry of an old Scottish peasant when he 
came to worship at the sacred well? — "O Lord, thou knowest 
that well would it be for me this day an I had stoopit my 
knees and my heart before Thee in spirit and in truth as 
often as I have stoopit them afore this well. But we maun 
keep the customs of our fathers." And among the super- 
stitions of Lancashire is one which tells us of the lingering 
belief in a long journey after death, when food is necessary 
to support the soul. A man having died of apoplexy, near 
Manchester, at a public dinner, one of the company was 
heard to remark : " Well, poor Joe, God rest his soul ! He 
has at least gone to his long rest wi' a belly full o' good 
meat, and that 's some consolation." 

Special attention is needed to the characteristic of tradi- 
tion which is not Christian, because there is an important 
factor to take count of on the other side, which, owing to 
some recent words of Dr. Tylor, is of some moment to us 
just now. It seems to be admitted that the influence of 
Christianity is here and there traceable among the tradi- 
tional elements of savage and barbaric life. Thus the era 
of Christianity becomes a very important dividing line in 
folk-lore studies. On the one hand we have tradition in 
Christian countries going back to paganism ; on the other 
hand we have tradition in pagan countries going back to 
Christianity ; and necessarily, when we attempt the task of 
comparison, such phenomena must be taken into serious 
consideration. But if we are careful not to ignore the 
influence of Christianity upon savage beliefs, so must 
we be careful not to unduly accentuate it. It would 
account no doubt for some of the colouring matter, so to 
speak, of savage myth, but it would go a very little way in 
explaining savage ritual and belief The important point 

6 The President' s Address. 

for us to bear in mind is that, in both Christian and savage 
countries, Christian influences, though great, are not abso- 
lutely absorbing — if paganism, in short, is still to be traced 
in Europe, we should be chary of admitting too much as 
due to Christian influences in savage countries, for we have 
not yet properly traced out the elements of Christianity in 
Europe that are due to non-Christian sources. 

I do not intend to-night to touch upon the influence of 
Christianity upon savage tradition. I would rather turn 
your attention to the evidence of the survival of paganism 
in Europe ; for, though this has frequently been proved, it 
is well to bear the nature of the proofs in mind. That 
the Fathers of the early Church met with it, and recorded 
it, is to be expected, and it is one of the duties which this 
Society owes to the folk-lore student to collect together 
the passages from the patristic writings which relate to 
this epoch. Eusebius, St. Jerome, St. Columba, and the 
venerable Bede are among those who at once occur to the 
mind as bearing testimony to this part of our subject ; 
but the testimony wants a fair statement, and a complete 
collection of its constituent parts. When it is got to- 
gether, it will be found that the chronology of the evidence 
extends down far later than most of us are inclined to 
think. It was only in the 17th century that a learned 
divine of the Church of England was shocked to hear one 
of his flock repeat the evidence of his pagan beliefs in 
language which is explicit as it is amusing; and I shall 
not be accused of trifling with religious susceptibilities if 
I quote a passage from a sermon delivered and printed in 
1659 — a passage which shows not a departure from 
Christianity either through ignorance or from the result 
of philosophic study or contemplation, but a sheer non- 
advance to Christianity, a passage which shows us an 
English pagan of the 17th century. 

" Let me tell you a story," says the Reverend Mr. Pemble,. 
" that I have heard from a reverend man out of the pulpit, a 
place where none should dare to tell a lye, of an old man 

The President' s Address. 7 

above sixty, who lived and died in a parish where there 
had bin preaching almost all his time. . . . On his death- 
bed, being questioned by a minister touching his faith 
and hope in God, you would wonder to hear what answer 
he made : being demanded what he thought of God, he 
answers that he was a good old man ; and what of Christ, 
that he was a towardly youth ; and of his soule, that it 
was a great bone in his body ; and what should become of 
his soule after he was dead, that if he had done well he 
should be put into a pleasant green meadow." 

Of the four articles of this singular creed, the first two 
depict an absence of knowledge about the central features 
of Christian belief, the latter two denote the existence of 
knowledge about some belief not known to English 
scholars of that time. If it had so happened that the 
Reverend Mr. Pemble had thought fit to tell his audience 
only of the two first articles of this creed, it would have 
been difficult to resist the suggestion that they presented 
us merely with an example of stupid, or, perhaps, impu- 
dent, blasphemy caused by the events of the day. But the 
negative nature of the first two items of the creed is 
counterbalanced by the positive nature of the second two 
items ; and thus this example shows us the importance of 
considering evidence as to all phases of non-belief in 

But I pass on to the two items of positive belief The 
soul resident in the body in the shape of a bone is no part 
of the primitive Aryan belief, but equates rather with the 
savage idea which identifies the soul with some material 
part of the body, such as the eyes, the heart, or the liver ; 
and it is interesting to note in this connection that the 
backbone is considered by some savage races, e.g., the 
New Zealanders, as especially sacred, because the soul 
or spiritual essence of man resided in the spinal mar- 
row (Shortland, 107). And there is a well-known incident 
in folk-tales which seems to owe its origin to this group of 
ideas. This is where the hero, having been killed, one of 

8 The President'' s Address. 

his bones tells the secret of his death, and thus acts the 
part of the soul-ghost. 

In the pleasant green fields we trace the old faiths of 
the agricultural peasantry, which, put into the words of 
Hesiod, tell us that " for them earth yields her increase ; 
for them the oaks hold in their summits acorns, and in their 
midmost branches bees. The flocks bear for them their 
fleecy burdens .... they live in unchanged happiness, and 
need not fly across the sea in impious ships" — faiths which 
are in striking contrast to the Aryan warrior's conception 
as set forth by the Saxon thane of King Eadwine of 
Northumbria. "This life", said this poetical thane, " is 
like the passage of a bird from the darkness without into 
a lighted hall where you, O King, are seated at supper, 
while storms, and rain, and snow rage abroad. The 
sparrow flying in at our door and straightway out at 
another is, while within, safe from the storm ; but soon 
it vanishes into the darkness whence it came." 

But I must not now linger over contrasts in belief What 
I am anxious to illustrate is that the beliefs of this pagan 
Englishman reveal to us an individual whose stage of cul- 
ture was due, not to the prevailing academic or religious 
teaching of his own time, but to the ideas and beliefs of a 
culture which had ceased to exist as a prevailing or recog- 
nised culture for eight or nine centuries. Having ascer- 
tained this much, what does it indicate to us further ? In 
the first place, such a belief, such a veritable stage of 
paganism, must have come down by tradition from pre- 
Christian times. It cannot well be that this Englishman 
had gone abroad, and meeting somewhere a tribe of uncivi- 
lised people, had overthrown what little religious teaching 
he might have received in the seventeenth century, and had 
deliberately adopted the religion of savages. It cannot 
well be, either, that some uncivilised belief had travelled to 
England, either by means of an individual holding such a 
belief, or of an individual relating to wondering peasants 
his knowledge of such a belief, and had by this means been 

The President's Address. 9 

sucked up into the life of this English peasant. And so 
we get to the fact that tradition is the sanction for the 
existence of this pagan Englishman of the seventeenth 
century. In the next place such a tradition must have 
been kept alive, not by means of one individual, one family, 
one small group of peasants, who signalised themselves by 
obstinately learning not to become Christians. It must 
have been kept alive by the agency of a considerable 
number of people ; and perhaps Shakespeare has preserved 
evidence of this when he puts into the mouth of Dame 
Quickly the information that Falstaff on his death -bed 
" babbled of green fields". And so we conclude that in 
this fortunate allusion in a seventeenth century sermon to 
the irreligious beliefs of one member of a Christian flock, 
we have one of those accidents of literature the discovery 
of which is as important for the study of man as a dis- 
covery in geology, in chemistry, is for those branches of 
natural science. But let me point this out. If such an 
accidental discovery proves so fruitful in good results it 
behoves us to tap the sources of such information more 
thoroughly, more scientifically ; and if any member of the 
Society under my presidency shows himself unduly restive 
or sceptical as to folk-lore methods, I shall set him to 
work to wade through all the dreary tomes of sermons 
which theologians have flung upon a book-ridden world. 

When we folk-lorists, then, claim that certain legends or 
customs or beliefs are relics of a prehistoric culture, we 
have at least the support of actual fact to show that the 
culture of historic times has not penetrated everywhere 
among the people. With this fresh in your minds I want 
to draw attention to an Irish custom which in some respects 
is as curious and remarkable as anything I have come 
across in folk-lore. 

At Lahinch, a small village at the bottom of the Bay of 
Liscannor, in Ireland, a remarkable summer ceremony took 
place about the year 1833. It was observed in two succes- 
sive years, and the details were on each occasion the same. 

lo The President' s Address. 

This fact is important, as unfortunately a minute descrip- 
tion has not been put on record. A crowd of men and 
boys walked for about a mile along the road which runs 
al%ng the bay. At their head were two middle-aged men, 
holding each by one of his hands a lad of about nineteen 
years of age perfectly naked, while immediately behind 
him was an elderly man (either his father or uncle, as it 
was afterwards found out) holding a hatchet and a saw. 
On reaching the bathing-place a circle was formed, and the 
principal performers were enclosed in it. After a time the 
young man was led out by another, who had undressed 
himself, and bathed in the sea, after which they were again 
received into the circle, when some ceremony was gone 
through in which the hatchet and saw were used, and in a 
{&\v moments a loud shout proclaimed that the mystery 
was proceeding successfully. As soon as the man who 
had bathed the boy was dressed, the crowd set forth into 
the village with loud shouts, the two men leading the naked 
youth as before, and the man with the saw and hatchet 
following. Nothing could be found out about the meaning 
of this extraordinary ceremony, and questions were not 
allowed to be asked about it. A sort of horror seemed to 
hang over everything until the bathing ceremony was 
completed, and everyone, particularly the women, seemed 
anxious to keep out of the line of procession, while the 
ceremony was strictly guarded from the observation of the 
"profane". As soon as it was over, all the rabble rout^ 
both male and female, of the village flocked about the 
performers, and for some time kept up loud shouts. 

What is the meaning of this ceremony? Can we think 
of the nude figure as a victim or as a novitiate ? May we 
connect some of the incidents, notably the supposed 
secrecy and the absence of the townspeople, as parallel to 
some of the incidents in the Godiva ceremony which Mr. 
Hartland has examined for us } Or are we to think of it 
as a mere piece of modern foolery of more than question- 
able taste ? 

The Preside7tfs Address. i r 

I shall not to-night attempt to give the explanation I am 
inclined to hold is the correct one, but I put these prelimi- 
nary questions in order to ask the far more important one 
as to what we are to do with such specimens of folk-lore 
— a question which takes us in fact to the second great 
landmark in our studies, namely, the point where we may 
properly commence the work of comparison. Having 
picked out any item of folk-lore, are we immediately to 
rush off into foreign lands inhabited by barbarous and by 
savage people, seeking for analogues? My answer is 
decidedly not. We must first of all treat of them as sur- 
vivals in British folk-lore, and we must ascertain their place 
in British folk-lore, their relationship to other customs and 
beliefs extant among the same people or within the same 
geographical area. 

Each folk-lore item, in point of fact, has a life-history of 
its own, and a history of its place in relationship to other 
items. Just as the biography of each separate word in our 
language has been investigated in order to get at Aryan 
speech as the interpretation of Aryan thought, so must the 
biography of each custom, superstition, or story be investi- 
gated in order to get at Aryan belief or something older 
than Aryan belief We must try to ascertain whether each 
item represents primitive belief by direct descent, by sym- 
bolisation, or by changes which may be discovered by 
some law equivalent to Grimm's law in the study of 
language. Patient research must be the method of the 
future, and we must leave off poetising about folk-lore, and 
commence to arrange it in statistical columns ; nay, there 
will be poetry in this even, for from such statistics may be 
recovered some of the lost ideals and aspirations of our 
prehistoric ancestors. 

Such statistics will reveal some characteristics of folk- 
lore, which, so far as I know, have never yet been taken 
count of One very important characteristic is the pre- 
valence of a particular belief attached to different objects 
in different places. It will be in the recollection of those 

12 The President's Address. 

of you who heard Professor Rhys's paper on Manx 
folk-lore that he stopped short in his explanation of the 
superstition of the first-foot, because he had heard that, 
while in the Isle of Man it was attached to a dark man, 
elsewhere it was attached to a fair man. Of the examples 
where, on New Year's morning, it is held to be unlucky to 
meet a dark person, I may mention Lincolnshire, Durham, 
Yorkshire, and Northumberland. It is, on the contrary, 
lucky to meet, as first-foot, a dark-haired man in Lanca- 
shire, the Isle of Man, and Aberdeenshire. In these cases 
we get the element of "dark" or "fair" as the varying 
factor of the superstition ; but instances in Sutherlandshire, 
the West of Scotland, and in Durham occur, where the 
varying factor rests upon the question of sex — a man being 
lucky and a woman being unlucky. 

Similarly of the well-known superstition about telling 
the bees of the death of their owner, in Berkshire, Bucks, 
Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Lincolnshire, Lanca- 
shire, Monmouthshire, Notts, Northumberland, Shropshire, 
Somersetshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Wilts, Worcester- 
shire, it appears that a relative may perform the ceremony, 
or sometimes a servant merely, while in Derbyshire, 
Hants, Northants, Rutland, and Yorkshire it must be 
the heir or successor of the deceased owner. Again, 
while in the above places the death of the owner is told 
to the bees, in other places it is told to the cattle ; and, 
in other places, marriages as well as death are told to 
the bees. 

In some cases the transfer from one object to another of 
a particular superstition is a matter of absolute observa- 
tion. Thus, the labourers in Norfolk considered it a pre- 
sage of death to miss a " bout" in corn or seed sowing. 
The superstition is now transferred to the drill, which has 
only been invented during the present century. Again, in 
Ireland it is now considered unlucky to give anyone a 
light for his pipe on May-day — a very modern supersti- 
tion, apparently. But the pipe has been the means of pre- 

The President'' s Address. 13 

serving the older superstition of not giving a light from 
the homestead fire, 

I will just touch upon one other subject dealt with by 
Professor Rhys during last session : I mean the well- 
known custom of offering rags at sacred wells. Professor 
Rhys thought that the object of these scraps of clothing 
being placed at the well was for the purpose of transferring 
the disease from the sick person to some one else. But I 
ventured to oppose this idea, and considered that they 
were offerings, pure and simple, to the spirit of the well. 
Since the discussion, which took place in December, I 
have turned to examples of the subject, and, among other 
items, I have come across an account of an Irish "station", 
as it is called, at a sacred well, the details of which fully 
bear out my view as to the nature of the rags deposited at 
the shrine being offerings to the local deity. One of the 
devotees, in true Irish fashion, made his offering accom- 
panied by the following words : " To St. Columbkill — I 
offer up this button, a bit o' the waistband o' my own 
breeches, an' a taste o' my wife's petticoat, in remimbrance 
of us havin' made this holy station ; an' may they rise up 
in glory to prove it for us in the last day." I shall not 
attempt to account for the presence of the usual Irish wit 
in this, to the devotee, most solemn offering ; but I point 
out the undoubted nature of the offerings and their service, 
in the identification of their owners — a service which im- 
plies their power to bear witness in spirit-land to the pil- 
grimage of those who deposited them during lifetime at 
the sacred well. 

Now, in all these cases there is an original and a 
secondary, or derivative, form, of the superstition, and it is 
our object to trace out which is which, for it is only with 
the original form that we can properly deal with the com- 
parative side of folk-lore. Do the rags deposited at wells 
symbolise offerings to the local deity? If so, they bring 
us within measurable distance of a cult which rests upon 
faith in the power of natural objects to harm or render aid 

14 The Presideiif s Address. 

to human beings. Does the question of first-foot rest upon 
the colour of the hair or upon the sex of the person ? I 
think, looking at all the examples I have been able to 
examine, that colour is really the older basis of the super- 
stition, and, if so, ethnological considerations are doubtless 
the root of it. Again, if the eldest son of the deceased 
owner of bees appears in the earliest form of the death- 
telling ceremony, we have an interesting fragment of the 
primitive house-ritual of our ancestors, which might be ex- 
tended into other subjects — as, for instance, where it is the 
house-father in Derbyshire who carried the sacred fire 
round homestead and fields: a fact not considered beneath 
the notice of Dugdale. 

When, however, we come upon the worship of natural 
objects, when we can suggest ethnological elements in folk- 
lore, and when we can speak of the house-father, and can 
see that duties are imposed upon him by traditional cus- 
tom, unknown to any rules of civilised society, we are in 
the presence of facts older than those of historic times. 
It is thus that folk-lore so frequently points back to the 
past before the age of history. Over and over again we 
pause before the facts of folk-lore, which, however ex- 
plained, always lead us back to some unexplored epoch of 
history, some undated period, which has not revealed its 
heroes, but which has left us an heritage of its mental 
strivings. Some folk-lorists attach this unexplored, undated 
period to events which are crowded with specific figures 
atmo doviini, but I am not one of these. For I believe it 
to be by means of a scientific analysis of each individual 
item that the folk-lore of to-day is to be traced back to the 
early European peoples. 

If this view is correct, the culture of these people, as it 
is revealed to us by the classical writers and the chroni- 
clers, must fall into the series at some given point. In 
these writers, the early inhabitants of Britain are depicted 
among the rudest types of people, one of their most 
amiable practices being to eat the bodies of their deceased 

The President'' s Address. 15 

parents or relatives. Such practices have alarmed the 
historian, and, at this stage, we have to meet his suscep- 
tibilities. In truth, it must be confessed that the pic- 
ture revealed by the early writers is not a pleasing one. 
Probably for this reason, or as much for this reason as 
any other that has found expression, they have been re- 
jected as the proper ground upon which to found any- 
thing like historical truth. The terms " savage" and " bar- 
barian" indulged in by the Greek and Roman writers are 
rejected by modern authorities as too harsh. They look 
upon them in the nature of accusations against the stand- 
ing and position of our ancestors, made by advocates 
anxious to blacken the national character. Even scholars 
like Mr. Skene, Mr. Elton, and Professor Rhys, though in- 
clined to weigh these passages by the light of ethnographic 
research, throw something like doubt upon the exact 
extent to which they may be taken as evidence. Mr. 
Elton, though admitting that the early " romances of 
travel" afford some evidence as to the habits of our bar- 
barian ancestors, cannot quite get as far in his belief as to 
think that the account of " the Irish tribes who thought it 
right to devour their parents" is much more than a traveller's 
tale. Professor Rhys is not quite sure that the account 
by Caesar of the communal marriages of the British is 
■" not a passage from some Greek book of imaginary travels 
among imaginary barbarians which Caisar had in his 
mind"; and elsewhere he has similar doubts to express, 
noteworthy among them being the passage from Pliny 
which illustrates the Godiva story. Mr. Skene lays stress 
upon the fact that Tacitus " alludes neither to the practice 
of their staining their bodies with woad nor to the sup- 
posed community of women among them"; and he offers 
•some kind of excuse for the Roman evidence as to the 
tattooing with representations of animals, evidence which 
Professor Rhys, too, is chary of accepting in its full sense. 
These are the doubts of scholars accustomed to weigh 
the value of ethnographic evidence. But, in spite of them, 

1 6 The President s Address. 

I cannot help expressing the opinion that, when tested by 
the evidence of folk-lore, those attributes of our ancestors 
which do happen to have been noted will be found to 
belong not to isolated peculiarities of a barbarous people, 
but to a definite stage of human culture, will supply the key 
to that stage, and will find ample illustration in the culture 
of modern savages. Thus my point is that the doubts of 
the historian can be removed only by the researches of 
the folk-lorist. He would have no misgivings about accept- 
ing early records when he finds that the records of alm-^st 
modern times contain fragments of custom and belief 
whose ancestry is plainly traceable to the savagery depicted 
in the early records ; and of this there is ample evidence. 

These questions as to items of culture belonging to a 
system of which they are only the indicators, lead me to 
the third important landmark in the study of folk-lore. 
This has come to the front since the Congress held last 
autumn at Burlington House. I mean the place held by 
customs and institutions as a section of folk-lore. 

We have frequently been called " A Fairy-tale Society". 
I do not object to the title as such, because I love the fairy 
tales which form part of our stock-in-trade. But I object to 
it as a title equivalent to folk-lore. In my own mind I 
have long considered customs and institutions to be pro- 
perly a section of folk-lore, but it was not until last autumn 
that any official sanction, so to speak, was given to such an 
idea. How far is that idea going to be accepted by folk- 
lorists is the question I am anxious to see settled. 

At the present moment the subject is in somewhat a 
chaotic condition. Students of folk-lore have pretty gener- 
ally ignored customs and institutions ; and the inattention 
has been returned with a vengeance. Folk-lore has long 
been in the habit of looking far afield for the elements 
necessary for its elucidation — it has ascended the stream 
of time and seized hold of what fragments there are of 
ancient faiths and ancient legend ; it has penetrated into 
the lands of savage races, and has shocked the susceptibilities 

The President's Address. 17 

of Prof. MaxMuller by so daring an adventure. Butthe study 
of customs and institutions (except in the one case of mar- 
riage) has kept within very limited lines, and in Europe it 
cannot free itself from the influences of ancient Rome. Sir 
Henry Maine's masterly treatises have scarcely begun their 
work before the fabric is rudely torn down, and once more we 
are bid to keep within the meshes of chronological data, 
and take care to avoid the conclusions of comparative 
methods. Why should this be ? 

My answer is, that the neglect in studying institutions 
from their folk-lore aspect is primarily the fault of the 
folk-lorist, who has not hitherto avowedly and openly 
claimed customs and institutions as part and parcel of his 
subject-matter. The method has been to pick out a frag- 
ment of myth, a form of ritual, or a superstition, and to 
compare them with their fellows in savage life without one 
thought of the setting in which they are embedded. 

But myth, ritual, and superstition make up part of the 
lives of savages only when they are embedded in the 
institutions which surround those lives, and the myth, 
ritual, and superstition in folk-lore corresponding to the 
savage original was once embedded in similar institutions. 
The people of Africa, says Mr. MacDonald, worship not 
so much individually as in villages or communities. This 
remark holds good of nearly all primitive peoples, and it 
helps us to understand an observation long ago made by 
an English writer on the manorial tenant — an observation 
which is more strictly true than is generally supposed : 
" His religion is a part of his copyhold." When the jurist 
talks to us, in highly technical language, of lords, free- 
holders, villeins, and serfs, we must bear in mind that, at 
any rate, these villeins and serfs belonged to a social insti- 
tution, one element of which was religion — a religion which 
we are studying as folk-lore, while the jurist is studying 
manor-rolls and land-tenures as customary law, the elements 
of both studies, however, being derived from the same source. 
Some interesting researches I have lately been making into 

VOL. Ill, c 

1 8 The President's Address. 

the history of the heriot assists us at this point. As it 
appears in manorial institutions the heriot is, as you would 
know, the surrender by a villein-tenant of his best beast ta 
the lord. Its later history of course leads us on to the 
evolution of rent ; and it would seem as if we had nothing' 
here but a phase of economical institutions. But there is 
some probability, though I do not give it as my final 
opinion, that its earlier history might be traced back to the 
ancient custom of the cow following the corpse of the 
deceased to the grave, where it was sacrificed to his manes ; 
and here we have, not an economical institution, but a 
religious ritual. 

I do not give this as a " showy" example of the connec- 
tion between belief and institutions, but because it is illus- 
trative, in an unusual degree, of my contention that to 
know properly the beliefs of a people we must know about 
their institutions as well. Mere floating beliefs incidental 
to the individual could not effect a lasting place in man's 
history ; and in studying beliefs we must be careful to 
discriminate between what belongs to the merely floating 
superstitions of the hour, liable to be displaced by other 
superstitions if the influences change, and what belongs, or 
has belonged, to permanent beliefs identified with the tribe, 
clan, or people — institutions, in fact. 

I will illustrate this principle in the study of beliefs by 
an example taken from totemism. The origin of totemism 
has yet to be traced, and I make the suggestion that we 
must begin by examining the beliefs of the non-totem 
races. When we do so, we come upon such examples as 
the people of Ulawa, one of the Solomon Islands, who will 
not eat the banana because a man of much influence not 
long ago forbade them doing so after his death, saying that 
the banana would represent him — that he would be in the 
banana. Similarly, at Saa, in Malanta, a man, before his 
death, will say that, after he dies, he will be a shark, and 
the people will accordingly believe him to be thus repre- 
sented, and his children will reverence the shark. In the 

The President's Address. 19 

island of Aurora, in the New Hebrides, women, before the 
birth of a child, believe that it will be the echo (jiunu) of 
some particular object, such as a cocoanut, breadfruit, etc., 
and they believe, therefore, that it would be injurious to 
the child if it ate that food. Now, here we have totem 
beliefs, but not totemism. And if, from such evidence, we 
are justified, as it seems probable, in thinking we have in- 
dications of the origin of totemism, there are some im- 
portant facts to notice in the history of primitive belief. 
We see, from this point of view, that the phenomena of 
incipient totemism belong to so universal a characteristic 
of primitive thought that they might be produced in any 
race over and over again, and yet might never be acted 
upon and utilised to produce any development in political 
or social organisation. It is, thus, not the existence of the 
phenomena which produces totemism ; it is seizing hold of 
the phenomena by the tribe for the purpose of a new tribal 
organisation. Given a tribe or race, whose habit of thought 
has been fossilised into a groove for ages, and the phenomena 
of totemism might constantly, generation after generation, 
be reproduced and die out again, to be again produced and 
to again die out. They are but vague, floating beliefs 
appertaining to an individual, not belonging to the com- 
munity ; and thus the principle which I have pointed out 
must be considered in studying beliefs is fully borne out by 
the facts presented by totemism. 

When we come to take up the subject of institutions as 
it must be taken up, there is, therefore, much to arrest 
attention. Papers contributed to the late Congress serve 
amply to illustrate this, and both Mr. Jevons and Mr. 
Winternitz have made a splendid beginning in the good 
work. Now, there is a method of inquiry well known to 
mathematicians by which they first calculate what a mag- 
nitude is expected to be, and then, measuring what is 
actually presented to them, they arrive at the difference 
between the two. This difference is regarded as an indica- 
tion of the presence of some agent which was either over- 

c 2 

20 The President' s Address. 

looked or not accurately allowed for in the process of 
making the "calculation". This seems to me to illustrate 
best what has been going on in the study of this branch of 
folk-lore, and, indeed, of all branches. We have calculated 
what the various magnitudes of folk-lore are expected to 
be. We have " expected them to be" sun-myths and 
dawn-myths ; the results of diseased language ; the 
heritage of a race whose Aryan name is not the only 
portion of its attributes which has been created by the 
fancy of scholars. We have expected them to be diluted 
literature, and, most strange, literature diluted with 
savagery. We have " expected them to be" the outcome 
of the Roman genius for organisation and rule. Indeed, 
our calculations are as numerous as our expectations. But 
the measurement of the " expected" magnitudes with the 
" actual" magnitudes is a portion of the work yet to be 
undertaken seriously. In some slight way I have at- 
tempted such a measurement in the case of village insti- 
tutions, and when I found that the measurement did not 
fit, I sought for the agent which had been overlooked or 
not accurately allowed for, in ethnology. But though I 
have had a patient hearing, though some scholars have 
been able to accept my treatment, if not all my conclu- 
sions, other scholars in England, in France, and lately in 
India, are impatient of my exaggerated use, as they term 
it, of the phenomena of survival in English institutions. 
But my use of survivals is the use sanctioned by folk-lore, 
and if I have exaggerated it in its application to institu- 
tions, so have all folk-lorists exaggerated it in other 
branches of their study. Those who raise the cry of ex- 
aggeration, however, do not attempt to explain the presence 
of survivals at all. When they hear that the freemen of 
the corporation of Alnwick used formerly to be initiated 
by being dragged through a well on the town common, 
they prefer to believe the silly legend about King John 
having instituted the ceremony because he was once 
ducked there himself It is an axiom of philologists that 

The President's Address. 21 

kings and parliaments cannot make new words. I think 
folk-lorists will look upon it as an axiom that kings could 
not inaugurate such a ceremony as that at Alnwick, which 
must have had some more powerful creator than the worst 
of English kings ; and they will bear in mind that, on the 
coast of Ireland, is another water ceremony, where the 
victim is not a prospective freeman of a municipal corpora- 
tion. Our point is, then, that survivals want accounting 
for, and, whatever may ultimately prove their proper place 
in the history of our race, no society is better able to 
account for them than this, no science better able to cope 
with the questions at issue than folk-lore ; and I cannot help 
expressing an earnest hope that we shall now be able to 
attract to our standard men whose interest in folk-lore does 
not lie outside institutions — that we shall be able, by our 
methods and by our aims, to show that we occupy a place 
among the learned societies occupied by no other body, 
and which sadly needs being adequately filled. 

In India there is a society specially established for the 
study of institutions, and it has been called by the honored 
name of Sir Henry Maine ; in England the Folk-lore 
Society nominally occupies the ground. But if it does 
not soon actually occupy it by paying attention to these 
subjects, some other organisation will step in to do its 

What, then, it appears to me we have now to do is to 
steadily look our position in the face— ascertain our re- 
quirements, and organise to meet every emergency. Our 
study embraces all that is traditional in its origin — folk- 
tales, hero-tales, legends, superstitions, usages, customs, and 
institutions. Every branch must be assisted ; every 
student seeking our aid must be welcomed and assisted ; 
every member must consider what folk-lore has become 
under the auspices of this society, and must be a specialist 
only to enable him to contribute to the general stock of 

According to my bias, as I frankly term it, I believe the 

22 The Presidenf s Address. 

traditional element of our national life which penetrates 
beneath the mighty stream of Christ's religion, which 
touches prehistoric times through the early notices of our 
savage ancestors, which is comparable to savage practices 
at present the property only of savage peoples, is made up 
of myth, usage, belief, and institutions ; and it is only by 
getting fast hold of this mosaic that we can adequately 
interpret the story of our race which it has to tell. 

I have left myself but little time to consider our work 
during the past session, and yet there is much to consider. 
We have had papers before us on — 

1. Desa^iptive Folk-lore : 

" Folk-lore of Malagasy Birds," by the Rev. James Sibree. 
" Notes on Manx Folk-lore," two papers, by Professor 

" Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs," by Rev. Walter 

" Notes on South African Folk-lore," by Rev. James 

" Relic of Samaritan Folk-lore," by Dr. Lowy. 

2. Contributive Folk-lore : 

" Recent Theories about King Arthur," and the " Lai of 

Eliduc," two papers, by Alfred Nutt. 
" Childe Rowland," by Joseph Jacobs. 
" Notes on English Folk-drama," by T. Fairman Ordish. 

It will be seen that the section of what I have termed 
Descriptive Folk-lore is the fullest in point of results ; and I 
am glad it is so. Mr. Sibree has always been a generous 
contributor to our archives from a land which is particu- 
larly interesting, and the minute details he was able to 
throw upon Malagasy totemism is a really important con- 
tribution to knowledge, as I think it takes the Malagasy 
peoples out of the category of the non-totem races. Of 
Professor Rhys's Manx researches it would be impertinent 
for me to say anything beyond putting on record my 

The Presidents Address. 23 

opinion of their value, both intrinsically and as models for 
all inquirers. Mr. Walter Gregor again sends us up a con- 
tribution of great value from his own home. 

In the Contributive section we have two masterly papers 
by Mr. Nutt, and one by Mr. Jacobs; and the latter must 
pardon my congratulating him on his attainment, on this 
occasion, of true folk-lore methods. Mr. Ordish's paper is, 
I believe, his first study presented to the Society, and it 
opened up a subject which has been quite neglected by us, 
and which is capable of yielding splendid results, for the 
dramatic influences of primitive usage are very great. 

A word or two more in conclusion. No doubt my 
scheme of work is ambitious — perhaps, indeed, too ambi- 
tious to realise. But I am not the one to shrink from a 
task, however gigantic, if the possibility of good results 
looms in the distance. And, moreover, the existence of 
such a scheme as a working-plan is of great value, because 
it not only supplies us, as it were, with the necessary 
pigeon-holes wherein to place all contributions received, 
but it suggests, and perhaps forms, a habit of research 
among workers in one common direction. I therefore put 
forward an urgent appeal to the Society to help me in 
having these things done. I am willing to do all that lies 
in me to do, and I ask you, by virtue of the office you 
have elected me to, to bid me organise bands of willing 
workers — men and women — who will set about collecting 
the fragments yet to be discovered, and will read through 
books, and copy out each item found therein, sending all 
their discoveries up to a central bureau, and doing it all 
persistently and faithfully as workers in a common scien- 
tific cause. If I have your mandate to-night to attempt 
such an organisation as I can, in my mental vision, see 
before me ; if I can succeed in imparting to any of you the 
great necessity there is for our Society to still lead the way 
as first among folk-lore societies ; if I can put into the 
feeble words at my limited command some indications of 
the importance of deliberate work by us all in collective 

24 The President' s Address. 

organisation, I will undertake to say that all who help in 
this good work will never regret it ; that as our monument 
gradually rises from the ground-work into something like 
perfection, hours and hours of pleasurable toil will have re- 
placed many a moment which would have been occupied 
less profitably, and if I know anything of the ups and 
downs of life, many a moment of trouble and regret. Give 
me, then, I pray you, the mandate I ask at your hands ; 
signalise my personally weak presidency by making it 
scientifically strong. 

Ladies and gentlemen, in the land of Eutopia — as in 
that London which Mr. Morris has dreamed about in his 
beautiful dreams — all things are done for love. We folk- 
lorists do things for love of folk-lore, and we find each 
other thinking good things of each other, and saying what 
capital people we all are. But outside the charmed band 
exists a hard and cruel world, who pretend to say that 
they cannot live upon love, even upon the love that folk- 
lore produces for the human species. That outside world 
demands money — money for postages, for travelling, for 
printing, and for that awfully portentous item, " miscel- 
laneous." Therefore, it behoves folk-lorists — or, at least, 
the Folk-lore Society collectively — to possess a banker, a 
treasurer, and a cash balance. I believe if we do good 
work we shall soon possess the inestimable blessing of a 
good cash balance. It is hopeless to expect that a cash 
balance and a satisfied treasurer will precede good work 
— it is putting the cart before the horse. The Council, as 
you have heard in the Report, is attempting much, and I 
am happy to say that two volunteers already, without any 
suggestion but their own desires, have asked me to give 
them some work to do, and they must pardon me if I 
mention their names — Miss Dendy and Miss Richardson. 
A suggestion I have to make is that the Council should 
place some of its accumulation of work into the hands of 
small committees of members, not on the Council, perhaps 
presided over by a member of the Council ; and I would 

The President's Address. 25 

especially suggest a committee of ladies. But whether or 
not this particular method be the best to adopt — and 
perhaps we may presently have an expression of opinion 
on the subject — I can assure the two volunteers, and those 
who may hereafter offer their aid, that they shall not long 
remain idle. 

1 have wearied you, I fear, with overmuch detail — over- 
much straining at points which, to some, may be so obvious 
as not to need even a passing mention in a presidential 
address, and an over-ambitious scheme of requirements. 
My justification will, I hope, be found in the new progress 
which the Society will make this coming year ; and if you 
will withhold your censures, I am willing to defer receiving 
any acknowledgments until, at the expiration of my year's 
term of office, my successor will sit in judgment and tell 
you whether my view of the case was appropriate to the 
present position of the Folk-lore Society. 

G. Laurence Gomme. 



" T WILL tell you a very ancient Breton lay, and as I 

± heard it I will retell it. 

" There dwelt a knight in Brittany named EHduc, brave 
and courteous, and a right worthy man. A wife he had of 
gentle blood and bearing. Long time they dwelt together, 
and faithfully did they love one another. But Eliduc had to 
seek service afar off, and there he loved a damsel ; daughter 
was she of a king and queen ; Guilliadun was her name, and 
she was the fairest maid of all her land. Now Eliduc's wife 
was named Guildeluec, and so this lay is sometimes called 
the lay of Guilliadun and of Guildeluec ; but its first name 
is the lay of Eliduc. What happened, and wherefore this 
lay was made, I will tell you truthfully." 

Thus does Marie de France begin the Lai of Eliduc, 
which she may have heard either in Jkittany or in Western 
England, and which she wrote down sometime in the second 
half of the I2th century. 'Tis an adventure, says she, 
which man ought not to forget, and for this it was the 
ancient Bretons, full of courtesy (and by courtesy one must 
understand a fine appreciation of the sentiment of love as 
it was preached and practised in the courts of France, and 
of all countries subject to French influence in the I2th and 
13th centuries), made the lay. By "Breton" there can be 
little doubt that Marie meant inhabitants of the present 
Brittany, the ancient Armorica. As we shall see, the scene 
of the story is partly Brittany, partly South-Western 
England. The fact that Marie recognised the lay as a 

Eli due and Little Snow- White. 27 

distinctly Breton production by no means precludes the 
possibility of her having heard it in this country. 

The contents of the lay are briefly as follows : — Eliduc, 
from being the most trusted vassal of his master, King of 
Lesser Britain, loses all favour, and resolves to seek 
service elsewhere. He parts from his wife in great grief 
and sorrow, assuring her that he will keep his faith to her 
whole and good. Setting sail with ten knights, he comes 
to Totness (Toteneis). In that land are many chiefs, one 
of whom at Exeter (Excestre) is powerful, but very aged. 
And because he will not give his daughter in marriage he 
is warred upon by rejected suitors, and sorely pressed. 
Eliduc offers his services, and defeats the king's enemies. 
The king keeps both him and his men a whole year by 
him, and makes him warden of his land. 

Now Eliduc was courteous and discreet, fair to look upon, 
generous and debonnair. So the king's daughter, hearing 
much good of him, begged him, through her chamberlain, 
to visit her. Eliduc complied. And when they met after a 
while the damsel considered attentively what manner of 
man he was, his face and his stature and his bearing, and 
Love flung his dart bidding her love him ; and she paled 
and sighed, but would in nowise tell the cause, lest he should 
think lightly of her. On his side Eliduc went away sad 
and pensive, thinking of the maiden, his lord's daughter, who 
called him so sweetly, and who sighed. Then he minded 
him of his wife, and how he vowed his faith to her. But 
the damsel all night long neither lay down nor slept, and 
at daybreak she opened her heart to her chamberlain. By 
his advice she sent Eliduc a golden ring and a scarf And 
when Eliduc received them, he put the ring on his finger and 
the scarf round his body, and thereat the king's daughter 
was greatly glad. But Eliduc had neither joy nor pleasure. 
Evermore he thought of the king's daughter, and evermore 
he thought of his wife, and how he had vowed faith to 
her. Now one day as the king was playing at chess, and 
his daughter at his side, Eliduc entered, and the king 

28 Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 

said to his daughter, " Maiden, thou shouldst be at one 
with this knight; do him great honour; I have none better.'" 
Right glad was the maiden, and she rose and called Eliduc, 
and they sat afar off from the others, and she dared say no 
word to him, and he feared to speak to her. But at last 
their mutual love was fully told. 

Now the King of Lesser Britain being hard-pressed by 
his foes, repented him of the injustice he had done Eliduc 
and sent to him, begging his aid and service. Eliduc could 
not refuse his first lord. But when he came to speak to 
Guilliadun, at the first word she swooned, and he lamenting, 
and ofttimes kissing her mouth, and weeping sorely, " Sweet 
my friend," said he, " you are my life and death ; you have 
my faith, and I will surely return." So Guilliadun yielded, 
and with many a kiss and vow the lovers parted. 

All in his land were overjoyed to see Eliduc, above all 
his wife. But he was ever sad for his love's sake, and 
nothing that he saw yielded him joy. This grieved his 
wife's heart, and she often asked him if he had heard aught 
to her disfavour. 

So the time went by until Eliduc should return to Guil- 
liadun, as he had promised. He passed over secretly into 
England, and carried her off at nightfall. But when they 
were got on the high seas, and were nigh the coast, the wind 
rose, and the masts were broken, and the sails torn. Prayers 
to the saints and to the Virgin were of no avail, so that at 
last a squire cried, " What boots it. Lord, to pray ? have we 
not here the cause of our peril. Never may we come to 
land, so being that you, with wedded wife at home, are 
carrying this one with you against God and law, against 
right and loyal dealing." But when Guilliadun heard these 
words she fell fainting and colourless, and in that state did 
she remain. Eliduc having flung the squire into the sea, 
seized the helm, and brought the ship to land. Then 
bethinking himself where he might find a fitting burial- 
place for the body of his love, still deeming her to be dead, 
he minded him of a hermit who dwelt hard by in a great 

Eliduc and Little Snow-White. 29 

forest. Thither he carried the damsel's body ; when as he 
came to the hermit's chapel, he found it void and abandoned, 
the hermit having died eight days before. So he laid the 
damsel's body before the altar, and, with tears and sighs 
and kisses, left it there. Thereafter he came every day to 
the chapel, and behold his lady's face changed not, only 
it became a little paler. But the wife of Eliduc, finding 
him bereft of speech and gladness, wondered at his daily 
absence, and setting watch upon him, learnt his visits to 
the chapel. On the morrow Eliduc must needs fare to 
court, and the lady rode forth to the chapel. Entering, she 
beheld the damsel on the couch, and she was like a fresh- 
blown rose. Seeing that body, those arms so long and white, 
those fingers so slim and taper, she knew her husband's 
woe. " Full well I feel it," said she, " for I too pity, and 
tenderness fills my heart, and never more shall joy be mine." 
Thus did she lament as she sat by the damsel's couch. 
But of a sudden a weasel ran across the body, and the 
lady's squire slew it with his staff As it lay dead its mate 
came running, and would fain have raised its head or made 
it move, and being unable, seemed sore distressed. Then 
running forth into the wood, it returned with a flower, 
scarlet of hue, which laying on its dead mate's mouth, life 
was restored. The lady saw and marvelled. Seizing the 
flower, she laid it on Guilliadun's mouth, whereat the damsel 
sighed and opened her eyes. " Dear God," said she, " long 
have I slept." Then she told the lady her story, and 
bewailed her cruel fate. But the lady bid her comfort 
herself " Eliduc still loves you. I, his wife, may not tell 
you how grievous to me is his despair, nor may I say how 
joyful to me your revival. Return with me, and I will 
place your hand in that of your friend. I will release him 
from his vows, and I will take the veil." Thus she sent 
her squire to tell Eliduc that Guilliadun still lived. Over- 
joyed, he hastened home, and finding there his sweet friend, 
tenderly rendered thanks to his wife, and much and often 
did he embrace the maiden, and she him full sweetly. The 

30 Eliduc and Little Snotv-White. 

lady then begged her lord to give her leave to serve God.. 
An abbey was founded by Eliduc, and the lady took the 
veil together with thirty nuns. So Eliduc wedded his 
love ; many days they lived together, and ever was perfect 
tenderness between them. And lastly Eliduc, founding a 
rich church, devoted himself wholly to the service of God, 
whilst Guilliadun joined his first wife, to whom she was 
dear as her own sister. So they three passed in holy wise 
their remaining days, praying for each other, and mutually 
exhorting each other to the love of God. 

Everyone knows the story of Little Snow-White, of 
Schneewittchen persecuted by her jealous stepmother, 
welcomed by the dwarfs in the forest, and preserved,, 
apparently lifeless, although in the full bloom of her beauty, 
in the glass case guarded by the seven dwarfs, until the 
destined prince appears. At first blush there is nothing 
in common between this tale and the Lai of Eliduc, save 
the one incident of the heroine's suspended animation, and 
this is preceded and followed by such entirely different 
incidents as seem effectually to discriminate the stories. 
But it is a canon of storyology never to judge a tale by 
one version, but to examine all the variants. These, so- 
far as Germany is concerned, are brought together by 
Grimm, iii, 87 et seq., whilst the fullest enumeration of the 
non-German variants is to be found in Gonzenbach, p. 202. 
The versions range from the Balkan peninsula to Iceland,^ 
and from Russia to Catalonia ; Germany and Italy being 
the two countries in which the greatest number have been 

In one of Grimm's variants a count and countess meet 
the heroine by the wayside, and the count loves her, and 
would fain have her with them in their carriage, but his 
lady seeks only how she may be rid of her. Here then 
wifely, and not stepmotherly, jealousy is the motive of the 
plot. This is still more so in the Neapolitan version^ 
written down by Basile in the early part of the 17th 
century {Pentanieronc, v, 5). The heroine having at the- 

Elidnc and Little Snow- White. 3 r 

age of seven fallen into a death-in-life condition, her body- 
is enclosed in seven crystal coffers by her mother, and is 
locked up in a room. The mother dies, leaving her house and 
all her belongings to her brother, whom she strictly charges 
to let no one enter the locked room. The brother lays the 
charge upon his wife, but she, of course, no sooner his back 
turned, has no first thought save to enter the forbidden 
chamber. Her reflections contrast amusingly with those 
of Guildeluec. Some may think them more legitimate as 
well as more natural : " Well done, Mr. Keep-your-troth, 
Mr. Clean out- and dirty in-side, so this was the cause of 
your precious anxiety to let no one in, this is your idol 
which you needs come and worship daily." After which, 
having by her violence caused the enchanted comb which 
kept the maiden entranced to drop out, and thereby 
brought her back to life, she treated her worse than a 
slave. Finally, in a Roumanian version (Schott, 6), other- 
wise closely akin to Schneewittchen, the heroine, blinded 
by her mother, is healed by the Virgin, even as Guilliadun 
is brought back to life by Guildeluec. 

These few examples show more likeness between the 
two narratives than one could guess from the study of 
Schneewittchen alone. Still one cannot say that these 
parallels carry us very far, and as a matter of fact no one 
ever thought of comparing incircJien with lai. The greatest 
of living storyologists, Dr. Reinhold Kohler, has annotated 
both Eliduc and the Sicilian versions of Little Snow-White, 
and in neither case did he attempt to connect the two 

When, nearly twelve years ago, I read my first paper 
before the Folk-lore Society — that critical examination of 
Campbell's collection which contained the germ of all the 
scientific work I have been able to accomplish since — I 
noticed the absence of the Schneewittchen formula from 
the Gaelic mdrchen store. It was therefore with profound 
interest that in 18S8 I noted a Scotch-Gaelic version 
collected by Mr. Kenneth Macleod, printed by my friend 

32 Eliduc and Little Snow-White. 

Mr. MacBain, in vol. xiii of the Celtic Magazine (pp. 213 
et seq.), and since reprinted in Celtic Fairy Tales. I give 
below a summary of the tale, " Gold-tree and Silver-tree," 
with the more important passages in full. 

Silver-tree, the wife, is jealous of Gold-tree, the daughter ; 
she consults a trout in a well as to who is fairest, and learns 
it is her daughter, whereat she takes to her bed, and declares 
one thing alone will heal her, her daughter's heart and liver. 
A he-goat's heart and liver are given her, and Gold-tree is 
sent off secretly and married to a foreign king. After a 
year Silver-tree consults the trout again, and learns that 
her daughter is still alive. She sets sail for the foreign 
land, and kills Gold-tree with a poisoned stab in her finger ; 
but so beautiful did Gold-tree look that her husband would 
not bury her, but locked her in a room where no one would 
get near her. " After a while he married again, and the 
whole house was under the hand of this wife but one room, 
and he himself kept the key. One day he forgot the key, and 
the second wife got into the room. What did she see there 
but the most beautiful woman she ever saw," Taking the 
poisoned stab out of her finger. Gold-tree rose alive as 
beautiful as she was ever. At the fall of night the prince 
came home downcast. " What bet," said his wife, " would 
you put to me that I would make you laugh ?" " Nothing 
could make me laugh, save Gold-tree to come alive." 
" Well, you have her alive down there in the room !" When 
the prince saw Gold-tree, he began to kiss her and kiss her 
and kiss her, so that the second wife said he had better stick 
to her and she would go away. " No," said the prince, 
"indeed you will not go away, but I shall have both of 
you." It is then told how the wicked Silver-tree is punished, 
thanks to the second wife, and the story winds up with 
" the prince and his two wives were long alive after this, 
pleased and peaceful, and there I left them." 

It is hardly necessary to set out all the interesting points 
of contact between this and other versions of the Snow- 
White formula, as well as between it and the Breton lai. 

Elidtic and Little Snow- White. 33 

Gold-tree is with her husband when the death-in-life trance 
befalls her, even as Guilliadun is with her affianced husband. 
She is locked into a chamber as is the Neapolitan damsel ; 
found by her husband's wife as is Basile's heroine by her 
uncle's wife. But these parallels are slight indeed compared 
with the remarkable one afforded by the conduct of the 
two Celtic wives : like Guildeluec, the prince's second wife 
welcomes her rival ; like her, she tells him of the joy that 
is his ; like her, she offers to go away and leave them 
to their happiness, I confess I am more taken with the 
frank and unaffected naturalistic paganism of the modern 
Gaelic tale than with the monkishness of the 12th century 
lai. The ending is more original, if not more charming. 
Little objection indeed did the large-hearted husband meet 
to his offer, and the last we hear of the three is that they 
were " pleased and peaceful". 

In his notes to Gold-tree and Silver-tree, Mr. Jacobs 
wrote as follows {^Celtic Fai7'y Tales, p. 252") : — " It is unlikely 
I should say impossible, that this tale, with the incident of 
the dormant heroine, should have arisen independently in 
the Highlands, it is most likely an importation from abroad. 
Yet in it occurs a most ' primitive' incident, the bigamous 
household of the hero. On the ' survival' method of investi- 
gation this would probably be used as evidence for polygamy 
in the Highlanders. Yet if, as is probable, the story came 
from abroad, this trait may have come with it, and only 
implies polygamy in the original home of the tale." When 
I first read this note I demurred to the supposition of 
importation within a comparatively recent period, yet I 
could urge nothing against it. It certainly seemed more 
likely that the isolated Celtic version should be due to 
borrowing, than that it should represent the original stock, 
always provided the hypothesis of independent development 
from a common mythic germ were set aside as inadequate. 
It was long since I had read Marie's lays, and no thought 
of connecting the Celtic folk-tale with Eliduc crossed my 
mind. But only a few weeks later I read in the Revue des 


34 Eliduc and Little Snow-White. 

Deux-Mondes (Oct. 15th), Mons, Joseph Bedier's equally 
erudite and charming article on Marie de France. There- 
in the lai of Eliduc is analysed at length, and as I read, 
the supreme interest of the Gaelic tale was borne in 
upon me. 

It hardly needs to point out what that interest is. Con- 
nection of some sort between the two narratives must be 
patent to all ; evident also that the story of Eliduc is a 
civilised and Christianised version of that found in Gold-tree 
and Silver-tree. I say evident to all, as I cannot think it 
will be seriously urged that the lai of Eliduc made its way 
to Northern Scotland, and was there shorn of its ecclesi- 
astical ending, and otherwise transmuted as we now find it. 
But it is not safe to take for granted that a certain school of 
storyologists will refrain from any contention, however 
desperate, in support of their views, and I will therefore 
cite one argument which seems to me absolutely conclusive 
in favour of my argument that Eliduc has been deliberately 
altered to its present shape. In the great majority of folk- 
tales, as indeed of most forms of narrative, the interest of 
the story depends upon complications wrought by the 
agency of a " villain", a villain technically being anyone 
who opposes the hero or heroine. In Eliduc the "villain" 
is the squire, whose words on board ship throw the heroine 
into her death-in-life trance, and as " villain" he is fitly 
punished by being straightway cast overboard. But he it 
is who embodies the moral sentiment of the narrator and 
of the better part of her audience. It is inconceivable that 
this antinomy should be the deliberate act of Marie or of 
her predecessor, if either had invented the story ; equally 
inconceivable that it could appear in any genuine folk-tale, 
an unfailing characteristic of which is that it never deviates 
into sympathy for the villain. We can see as clearly as if 
the process went on before our eyes how one special 
incident of the folk-tale appealing to the minstrel's fancy, 
that incident was transformed to suit the taste of a different 
audience. As generally happens in these mediaeval adap- 

Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 35 

tations of the common folk-tale, the adaptor cared little for 
logical consistency, so that whilst his villain represents the 
high-water mark of moral sentiment in the story, he yet 
•suffers as he did in the primitive folk-tale, where he was 
thought of as wholly bad, simply because his action incon- 
venienced hero and heroine. 

Admit Eliduc to be a modification of a previously 
existing folk-tale, and the conclusion cannot be resisted 
that its original must have been closely akin to the original 
of Gold-tree and Silver-tree. Unless indeed we can point 
to any other narrative type which is equally or more likely 
to have given rise to the lai as we now have it. 

There is a widely spread narrative type which in the 
Middle Ages was localised in widely separated districts, 
and furnished the matter of many favourite stories — that 
of the Husband with two Wives. 

This cycle has been briefly studied by Mons. Gaston, 
Paris {Comptes rendus de PAcad. des Inscr. et Belles-Lettres, 
1887, pp. 577-586). One of the best known of the stories 
belonging to it is that of the Count of Gleichen, whose 
tomb is still shown between that of his two wives. But 
this cycle, so far as studied, is really of literary origin, and 
goes back to the Breton lai. Thus one of the oldest forms, 
the French metrical romance of Ille et Gateron, by Walter 
■of Arras, recently made accessible in Professor Forster's 
admirably handy edition in his Romanische Bibliothek, is, 
as the learned editor argues, based entirely upon the Lai of 
Eliduc, with such developments as were required to spin 
out a story of r,ooo lines to one of 6,000, and such modifi- 
cations as the poet deemed necessary to suit the theme to 
the taste of his patrons and patronesses, among them the 
Countess Marie of Champagne, the leading love- casuist 
of North France, under whose auspices it was that the 
theory of love, as professed by all the courtly spirits of the 
time, was elaborated and codified. Now, as one of the 
texts of this code ran. Nemo potest duplici auiore ligari, it is 
evident that Walter had a task of some difficulty before 

D 2 

36 Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 

him, and his work deserves an instant's consideration, ex- 
cellent example as it is of the way in which the Breton lais 
(themselves, I believe, adaptations of current folk-tales) 
were turned into long romances. The adventures of 
Eliduc at the court of the King of Exeter are, to some 
extent, used twice over: firstly, in the account of how Ille 
wins the love of his first wife, Galeron, sister to the Duke 
of Brittany, and then — when Ille, having lost his eye in a 
tournament, and fearing his wife will love him no more^ 
flees from her — in the account of the help he gives the 
Emperor of Rome, and of the love he excites in the breast 
of the Emperor's daughter Ganor. But Galeron, instead of 
staying quietly at home, as does Guildeluec, seeks her 
truant husband, and finds him just as he, thinking her to 
be dead, is about to wed Ganor, out of pity for her great 
love. Galeron then offers, as does Guildeluec, to retire to 
a convent, but Ille will have none of the proposal, returns 
with her to Brittany, and there they live happily for many 
years. But Galeron, being in sore peril in childbirth, vows 
herself to the service of God if she wins through. This 
happens, and Ille, thus released, sets forth in search of 
Ganor, delivers her from great peril, and finally weds her. 

The above brief ab.stract suffices to show the softening of 
the original polygamous feature begun in Eliduc fully 
carried out by Marie's contemporary. In the process, the 
" villain" has completely disappeared — as was, indeed, to 
be expected. The fact is, however, instructive to note for 
any who may hold that the lai of Eliduc is the source of 
the folk-tales. When we do find a derivative of the Breton 
lai, the development is in the very opposite direction. 

The ersions hitherto cited of the " Husband and Two 
Wives" can thus throw no light upon the origin of Eliduc ; 
on the contrary, they must be looked upon as mere literary 
offshoots from the lai stock. There is, however, one 
version which has never yet been mentioned in this connec- 
tion to my knowledge, which cannot be directly connected 
with Eliduc, but which may be, and I believe is, an inde- 

Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 37 

pendent growth from the same root as that from which 
Marie's poem has sprung. I allude to the Amleth (Ham- 
let) story told by Saxo Grammaticus in the fourth book of 
his Historia Danica. After the slaying of his uncle-step- 
father, Amleth returns to Britain to his wife, daughter of 
the king of that land. When he tells his father-in-law 
what has happened, the latter is greatly perplexed. There 
was an old covenant between himself and Amleth's step- 
father, that whoever survived should avenge the other'.s 
death. To fulfil his promise, he sends his son-in-law to 
woo for him a Scottish Amazon, who loathed her lovers, 
and always inflicted upon them the uttermost punishment. 
But the queen loving Amleth ("the old she utterly 
abhorred, desiring the embraces of the young") for his wise 
and valorous deeds, craftily substitutes for the message of 
his father-in-law one directing that he should be married 
to her. Amleth readily falls in with the plan, and returns 
to Britain with his new bride. On his way he meets his 
first wife, who has come to warn him against her father. 
Her words (I quote from Mr. Elton's translation, to be 
issued shortly by the Folk-lore Society) are worth noting. 
Speaking of her own son, she says: " He may hate the sup- 
planter of his mother. I will love her ; no disaster shall 
put out my flame for thee," etc. Amleth, later, gets the 
better of his father-in-law, and goes back with his wives 
to his own land, i.e., Denmark. After a while he is defeated 
and slain by a competitor for the Danish throne, and the 
second wife, Hermutrude, yields herself up of her own 
accord to be the victor's spoil and bride. 

I cannot but think that Saxo is giving us here at second, 
if not at third hand a distorted version of an heroic legend 
that his countrymen heard in Celtic Britain. My chief 
reason for believing this is supplied by the Scottish {i.e., 
Celtic) Amazon queen, whom the King of Britain sends 
Amleth to woo for him. The warrior virgin who will only 
yield to the perfect hero, and who treats her other wooers 
much as the female spider treats hers, is, of course, a con- 

^S Eli due mid Little Snow- White. 

stant of heroic tradition. As Brunhild she plays a great 
part in the most famous hero-tale of the Germans. But 
certain characteristics clearly differentiate the Irish from 
the German representatives of the part. There is an un- 
human independence of, or indifference to the mortal 
wooer, a divine abandon when she decides to yield, a 
callousness to the fate of the particular mortal on whom 
she bestows her favours, that stamp her of the kin of the 
immortals, that place her on a different level from such 
beings, transcendently endowed with valour and high- 
heartedness, yet women all the same, as Sigrun or Brun- 
hild. These characteristics are clearly marked in Saxo's 
heroine, whose conduct after Amleth's death moves the 
worthy chronicler to one of his familiar outbursts of 
rhetorical commonplace about the fickleness of woman. 
Note, too, that Amleth's first wife is as ready to sub- 
ordinate herself to her rival as are Guildeluec or the second 
wife in Gold-tree. 

It may be urged that the name Hermutrude is non- 
Celtic, but I do not think this point is of the slightest 
importance. Saxo would almost certainly give his per- 
sonages a recognisable name, even if, as is not likely, his 
Danish informants had retained and correctly rendered an 
alien Celtic one. 

So far, then, the consideration of allied stories has 
strengthened my general proposition by showing, both : that 
another possible offshoot from the original of Eliduc exists, 
and that the derivatives of Eliduc show no tendency to 
revert to the folk-tale type. A close examination of the 
lai and the recently collected folk-tales may further support 
the contention that the Scotch-Gaelic tale probably repre- 
sents the original of Marie's poem, and almost certainly is 
not derived from the continental versions. 

With regard to the date of the tat, a terminus ad qiiem is 
furnished by that of Illeet Galcron, finished, as Prof Forster 
shows, in 1167. By this time, then, Marie's poem, or one 
closely resembling it, must have enjoyed wide favour. But 

Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 39 

indeed we can carry the date much further back. Marie 
herself describes it as ancient, but we cannot lay much 
stress upon this. A work barely two generations old may 
well have seemed ancient in her eyes and in those of her 
contemporaries. Internal evidence affords surer ground. 
The lai must have been composed at a time when there 
was frequent and easy communication between Brittany 
and Southern England, and when the condition of the 
latter country was such that the Breton poet knew, or 
could imagine, that it was parcelled out between a number 
of petty kings. This seems to preclude a post-Conquest 
date. The Breton allies of the Conqueror received liberal 
grants of territory in South-Western England ; in the 
second half of the nth and the first half of the 12th century 
the chief men of the district were also leading members of 
the Breton nobility, so that a Breton minstrel of that period 
could hardly have been so far unaware of the real state of 
contemporary Southern England as to draw the picture of 
it we find in Eliduc. The mention of Totness gives us no 
precise date. We know that at the Conquest it was 
already a borough town and a considerable port, more- 
over that in the early 12th century it enjoyed legendary 
renown, as Geoffrey makes Brutus land there on his first 
arrival in England. Whether this is to be brought into 
any connection with early migrations between Britain and 
Armorica is perhaps doubtful, but it seems to argue a long- 
standing traditional belief that Totness was the chief port 
of South Devon. I think we may assign the composition 
of the contents of the lai, substantially as retold by Marie, 
to some period prior to 1056. 

Turning from the material to the moral conditions of 
the lai, we note that although bigamy is held to be sinful, yet 
no form of divorce or other kind of ecclesiastical separation 
seems necessary. The arrangement between Eliduc and 
his two wives is apparently a family one, with which the 
Church has no concern. I do not profess to say how far 
this reflects possible historical conditions, or is simply to 

40 Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 

be attributed to a heedless and unlegal-minded minstrel. 
Be the origin of this feature what it may, it certainly adds 
to the archaic air which the lai, as a whole, wears. 

Turning to the German folk-tale, we note that according 
to Grimm (iii, 87) the form of the heroine's name is Low- 
German, and is retained even in High-German versions. This 
would indicate, if anything, a spread from north to south. 
The tale opens with the red-white-black incident, which, as 
I have abundantly shown (Maclnnes, pp. 431 and 435), is met 
with in Irish sagas earlier than elsewhere in modern Europe, 
and has from the i ith century downwards been a prominent 
commonplace of Celtic story-telling. If it is denied, as 
some deny, that such an incident may originate indepen- 
dently in different lands, and if it is denied, as many deny, 
that it is impossible for such an incident to be a portion of 
the proethnic Aryan story-stock, then I maintain that those 
who thus deny are bound to look for the origin of the incident 
there where it occurs earliest and most frequently. And 
that is in the Gaelic-speaking districts of these islands. 
Again, it should be noted that in several of Grimm's 
variants the rhyme of the jealous queen runs thus : 

"Spiegel unter den Bank, 
Sich in dieses Land, sich in jenes Land, 
Wer ist die schonste in EngellandV 

I do not lay much stress upon this, as from the fourth 
century onwards, England, thanks to its geographical 
position and to a natural bit of popular etymology, repre- 
sented the Otherworld to the continental German races. 
In one case (Musaus' version) the rhyme-word is " Braband". 
Lay as little weight upon these indications as one likes — 
and in my opinion they do not carry much weight — still they 
serve to localise the German versions in the Low-German- 
speaking lands, the connection of which with these islands 
was always close. 

In comparing the German and Gaelic tales there is one 
incident which cannot, I think, but strike every unprejudiced 

Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 41 

observer as being more archaic in the Gaelic than in the 
German version. I mean the mode of divination practised 
by the jealous queen. In Schneewittchen and in most of 
the continental variants she consults her mirror, in Gold- 
tree a trout in a well. No competent judge but will say 
that in the loth century, the period to which we have 
inferentially carried back the original of Eliduc, the latter 
is the more likely mode. Now in one of Grimm's variants 
the jealous queen consults a dog, Spiegel by name. Which 
is the more likely, that the mirror of several versions arose 
from a misunderstanding of the name of the divining animal, 
or that one narrator altered mirror to dog ? In any case 
the magic fish of knowledge (generally a salmon) is promi- 
nent in Gaelic myth. The fullest English account is that 
of O'Curry {^Manners attd Customs, ii, 142 et seq.), para- 
phrasing the Shannon legend found in the Dindsenchas, a 
topographico-mythical poem of the loth-iith century, 
other early nth century references to the myth being also 
given. Later use of this mythic idea abounds in Gaelic 
legend. It is surely more sensible, as well as more scien- 
tific, to refer the trout in the well of the Gaelic folk-tale to 
this old Gaelic mythic conception, rather than to suppose 
that a Gaelic story-teller, having heard a version of Schnee- 
wittchen, substituted a trout for a mirror. Is it not, on 
the contrary, evident that the clear surface of the well 
led by a natural transition to the mirror of the German 
versions ? 

What are the principal elements in the hypothetical 
original of Eliduc and of the Gaelic tales? — the situation 
of the hero between the two heroines, the death-in-life 
condition of one heroine brought about by the " villain". 
Now somewhat similar elements, though differently com- 
bined, are to be found in one of the oldest Irish hero-tales 
— the Sick Bed of Cuchulainn. The text is found in the 
Leabhar na h' Uidhre (Z U.), and professes to be transcribed 
from an older MS., the Yellow Book of Slam. Like 
most of the sagas in LU., it is, as Professor Zimmer 

42 Eliduc and Little Sfiozu-Wkite. 

has convincingly shown, an attempt to harmonise different 
and somewhat conflicting versions. As our present text 
was compiled in the early nth century, the versions upon 
which it is based must be much older. Indeed, there is. 
little reason to doubt that the elements of the story belong 
to the oldest stratum of Irish fancy, and that these ele- 
ments were combined, much as we find them in the nth 
century text, not later than the 7th century. In this 
saga Cuchulainn is loved by a queen of Faery, Fand.. 
She comes to earth in bird-guise, and is wounded by the 
hero. She throws him into a magic sleep, visits him, and 
thrashes him to such purpose that for a year he lies on his. 
couch, away from the court and all his friends, and can 
speak to nobody. Healed by faery intervention, he visits 
the Otherworld, and brings back Fand with him. The 
jealousy of his mortal wife Emer is thereby aroused, and she 
bitterly reproaches him. Fand thereupon returns to the 
Otherworld, and Cuchulainn and Emer, to whom a magic 
drink of forgetfulness is given, are left at peace with one 

Here, then, we have the husband and the two wives, and 
the death-in-life trance of one of the chief actors in the 
story. I suggest no connection, I do not for a moment 
imply that we have before us two variants of the same 
theme, differentiated by the fact that in the one the hero,, 
in the other the heroine, undergoes the magic trance. I 
merely point out that a story involving the same essential 
elements as those of the prototype of Eliduc and Gold-tree 
was one of the most famous of Gaelic legends. If the race: 
could fashion the one story it could fashion the other. 

Hitherto in my argument I have tacitly and implicitly 
accepted the"transmissionist" postulate. This I take to be 
that the similarity of folk-tale in modern Europe is to 
be accounted for by the transmission from definite centres 
within historic times of complete and well-rounded narra- 
tives. Still, for argument's sake, taking my stand on this 
platform, let me meet a possible objection arising from the 

Eliduc and Little Snow-White. 43, 

South-Italian variants of the Snow-White formula. As 
we have seen, Basile is nearer than is Grimm to Gold-tree, 
the assumed representative of the oldest type of the nar- 
rative. But Italy is farther from Gaeldom than is Low 
Germany ! So the transmissionist may urge. Now, para- 
doxical as the statement may appear, Italy is closer to 
Celtdom than is Germany. The " salt estranging sea" is 
often a surer link than the land. In the loth and nth 
centuries the Norman adventurers overran and founded king- 
doms in Sicily and Southern Italy. But Norman and Breton 
were closely allied ; Breton chiefs and soldiers accompanied 
the descendants of the Vikings. And thus it comes about 
that in the early 12th century we find numerous traces of the 
Arthurian romance throughout the Italian peninsula in the 
shape of personal names taken from the Romance cycle; 
thus it is that a late 12th century writer localises Avalon 
near Mount Etna. All the contentions I have striven to 
establish are, if the transmissionists knew it, in favour of 
their thesis, if they will only give up the main article of 
their creed, viz., that stories can be invented nowhere save 
in the East, and that every example of transmission must 
be from East to West. The present investigation does 
not affect the arguments for or against the transmission 
theory per se, and therefore I shall not pause to expound 
my reasons for believing that that theory only accounts for 
a very few of the problems of folk-lore. I am quite satis- 
fied if I can show that even the straitest partisan of that 
theory may accept my proof without its being necessary for 
him to revise all the articles of his creed. 

Before drawing what are, I think, the legitimate con- 
clusions from the facts I have been considering, I should 
like to say a few words about the polygamy incident which 
induced Mr. Jacobs to write his note. I agree with him that 
the tale as it stands would not be sufficient warrant for the 
existence of polygamy in early Gaeldom. I may add that 
the fact of that polygamy, which is as thoroughly established 
as anything can well be, would not in itself be a sufficient. 

44 Eliduc and Little Snow-White. 

warrant for the Gaelic origin of the folk-tale. But we 
know that polygamy was a Gaelic practice, and we have a 
tale in which it appears, and which professes to be Gaelic, 
a profession supported by a number of other considerations. 
Surely we are entitled, under these circumstances, to use 
the incident as evidence both of the Gaelic origin of the 
tale and of the survival of the practice in the folk-mind 
long after it had vanished from the social system. 

With regard to the evidence for polygamy among the 
early Gaels I will cite but one instance, and this I cite not 
because there is the slightest necessity to advance proof 
for a custom as well established historically as that of trial 
by jury in modern England, but because the instance itself 
is of great interest to folk-lorists, and because it throws a 
most curious light upon early Irish Christianity. I allude 
to the birth-story of Aed Slane, high king of Ireland from 
594 to 600 according to the Four Masters. The story 
runs thus : 

Once upon a time there was a great gathering of Gaels 
in Tailtin. And the king, Diarmaid, son of Fergus 
Cerbel, was there with his two wives, Mairend the Bald 
and Mugain of Munster. Now Mugain was jealous of 
Mairend, and egged on a satirist to make her rival remove 
the golden crown wherewith the bald one hid her shame. 
So the satirist craved a boon of the queen, and being gain- 
said, tore the crown from her head. " God and (St.) Ciaran 
be my help !" cried out the queen, and before a glance could 
be cast at her, behold the long, fine wavy golden locks were 
over the ford of her shoulders, such was the marvellous 
might of Ciaran. Then, turning to her rival, Mairend said, 
" Mayst thou suffer shame for this in the presence of the 
men of Ireland." Thereafter Mugain became barren, and 
she was sad, because the king was minded to put her away, 
and because all the other wives of Diarmaid were fruitful. 
So she sought help of (St.) Finden, and the cleric blessed 
water and gave her to drink, and she conceived. Suffice 
to say that the Saint's intervention was at first by no 

Eliduc and Little Snow-Wkite. 45 

means successful ; first a lamb, and then a silver trout were 
born, but finally Aed Slane, and he was the chief man of 
his day in Ireland. 

The story has come down to us in two forms : {a) a prose 
text, which I have abridged above ; {b) a poem by Flann 
Manistrech, who died in 1056 ; this merely gives the birth- 
story, omitting the rivalry between the two queens. The 
prose story as we have it mentions the poem, and would thus 
seem to be later than it ; but Mr. Whitley Stokes tells me 
that its language is, if anything, somewhat older, although 
it cannot be dated much before the beginning of the nth 
century. Prose and verse would thus seem to be inde- 
pendent versions connected in L U. by the paragraph con- 
cerning Flann's poem. The polygamy and the intervention 
of the two saints certainly picture manners and feeling as old, 
to say the least, as the alleged date of the personages. In 
the poem the animal births are interpreted in a Christian 
sense, both lamb and fish being symbols of Christ. See- 
ing, however, that we have to do with a story of rivalry 
and jealousy, it is allowable to compare the incident with 
the one, so frequent in folk-tales, in which the queen is 
accused by an enemy of giving birth to an animal, and is 
in consequence driven away by her husband. It is even 
allowable to speculate whether this form, the normal one, 
of the incident is not secondary, whether originally the 
enemy did not actually by the power of magic cause the 
offspring of the heroine to be animal instead of human. 
But such speculations would, I admit, at present be rather 
en fair. 

The miraculous growth of hair recalls at once the Godiva 
legend. Here, there can be little doubt, the present form 
of the story is not the original one. The point must have 
been that the countess rode naked, and that the covering 
of hair was a miraculous protection against unholy curio- 
sity. A similar conception is almost a commonplace in 
early Christian legend. The most familiar, as well as the 
oldest form known, is that found in the Acts of St. Agnes. 

46 Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 

Here the hair covers the whole body. As this narrative 
is due to St. Ambrose, and as St. Agnes is mentioned in the 
nth century Irish Martyrology known as the Calendar 
of Oengtis, it is probable that the legend was known to 
the early Irish Church, and if so, it is possible that the 
incident in our tale may be due to it.^ On the other hand, 
Mr. Whitley Stokes tells me that he knows no other 
example of the incident in Irish literature. Considering, 
too, the pride taken by the Gaulish chieftains in the beauty 
and length of their hair, as testified to by classical writers ; 
considering, moreover, the Irish rule which forbade the 
kingly throne to anyone possessed of a personal blemish, it 
seems to me quite as likely that the Mairend-Mugain story, 
if not founded on fact, is the outcome of Irish invention, 
as that it is a loan from the St. Agnes legend. The point 
deserves attention from those familiar with Irish as well as 
with continental hagiology. 

I do not wish to labour the argument further. There 
can, I think, be no reasonable doubt that I have suffici- 
ently proved my contention, and that the Gaelic tale of 
Gold-tree and Silver-tree, collected in North Scotland 
within the last few years, must be looked upon as the re- 
presentative of a tale which flourished in the loth century, 
a literary offshoot of which was the lai of Eliduc, and 
which viay have been carried by Breton minstrels to 
Southern Italy, by Danish Vikings to North Germany, 
and there have given rise to the Schneewittchen group of 
stories. I am not concerned at present to prove or disprove 
this last contention. I may point out, however, that the 
German tale contains elements, such as the seven dwarfs, 
which have all the appearance of great antiquity, and that 
the material and social conditions postulated by the tale 
must have existed in German as well as in Celtic lands. 
I trust some member of the Society with more leisure than 

^ Prudentius tells the story of St. Eulalia ; late hagiologists, of St. 
Mary the Egyptian, for which the oldest Acts of that saint give no 

Eliduc and Little Snow-White. 47 

T can command will carefully analyse and compare all 
known versions of this folk-tale group, and will essay to 
determine whether the facts compel us to assume radiation 
from a particular centre within historic times, or allow us 
to regard the tale as common property of the various 
Aryan races. 

In any case we have here a most beautiful illustration of 
the theory I have always urged, viz., that the folk-tale as 
collected in modern Europe is substantially older than the 
romances which were written down in the Middle Ages ; 
that so far from being abridged and debased derivations 
from the romances, they are, in the main, derived from the 
tales upon which those romances were based ; that there 
existed among the various Aryan-speaking races, as far 
back as we can trace, a stock of mythic narratives which 
have lived on to the present day. 

No one at all familiar, I will not say with the methods 
of folk-lore research — these methods are and must be those 
of historical criticism generally — but with the facts dis- 
closed by that research, but readily admits that, whilst we 
must always take the earliest version as the starting-point of 
investigation we must steel ourselves against the presump- 
tion that this earliest version is necessarily the starting- 
point of the series of phenomena we are investigating. It 
may be so, but more frequently it is not. This view is, 
however, apparently unintelligible to those distinguished 
students of history or literary history who sometimes 
do folk-lorists the honour of noticing them, and is held by 
them to be the result of the uncritical spirit which per- 
vades all folk-lore study. The boot is really on the other 
leg. It is the non-folk-lorist who is uncritical in applying 
critical canons, perfectly sound it may be in his own line of 
study, to another with which he is not familiar, and to 
which they are not legitimately applicable. It is not often, 
however, that a principle so important to folk-lore research 
as that of the capacity of contemporary tradition to pre- 
serve facts which are, using the word in a strict sense, pre- 

48 Eliduc and Little Snow- White. 

historic, can be proved. Hence the value of the instance I 
have just examined. 

Another lesson that may be learnt from this instance is 
the invalidity of an argument dear to many students of 
history, the argument ex silentio. I believe that even in 
historical investigation proper a most unwarranted use is 
often made of this argument ; in folk-lore research it 
should never be used save with the utmost caution. Could 
we apply a universal phonograph to the entirety of living 
oral tradition we should even then be far from justified in 
dogmatising about what may or may not have taken place 
formerly. But, as every folk-lorist well knows, it is but 
fragments of tradition that have been recorded and pub- 
lished. Every now and then a fresh fragment comes to 
light, and, like the Gaelic mdrcJien of Gold-tree, opens 
up new lines of investigation, and compels us to seek in 
new directions for the solution of our problems. 

Note. — The birth-story of Aed Slane has been edited and translated 
by Professor Windisch {Ber. d. phil.-hist. Classe d. Kg. Sachs. Ges. d. 
JViss., 1884). The best edition of Marie's /ais is that of K. Warnke 
(1885), with storiological notes by D. R. Kohler. For those un- 
familiar with old French, Roquefort's edition of Marie's works, with, 
modern French version, may be recommended. 

Alfred Nutt. 


XXXIV. — Origin of the Earth -Goblin (Skin 


A RASH iinaahijieji) is from the earth by birth, a red 
spot upon the skin is from the courtyard, from the 
animosity of the earth or of the water, or from hidden 
poison of a frog. From this the cunning one has been 
brought forth, the deceitful one of the earth has been 
bred ; although I do not the least know how it should have 
come here, how it should have broken out on a human 
skin, on the body of a woman's son ; to burn it like fire, to 
scorch it like flame, or as a * snail' or a ' worm', or as 
some other earth-goblin would do. A worm has short 
legs, an earth-goblin's are still shorter. If thou hast risen 
from the earth, then I conjure thee into the earth. If, 
feeble one, thou hast issued from water, then tumble into 
the water. If thou hast issued from fire, then plunge into 
the fire. When thou art departing carry away thine ani- 
mosity, take away thine own mischief 

A water Hiisi rowed along, a young creature kept see- 
sawing in a copper boat with tin oars. He reached land 

* Maahinen, see Gastrin, Vorlesiingen iiber d. Finn. Mythologies, p. 
169. The remainder of these magic songs will be given in prose. 
vVords in single inverted commas are epithets, and not to he taken 
quite literally. 


50 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

like a strawberry/ tumbled down like a lump of wheaten 
dough. Hence arose the breed of earth-goblins, hence 
hast thou, deceitful wretch, originated. Now I conjure 
thee away. There is no place for thee here ; thy place, 
earth-goblin, is in the earth ; thy place, water-devil, is in. 
the water. 

XXXV. — Origin of Stitch and Pleurisy. 

Formerly a lovely oak grew, an incomparable shoot shot 
up. It grew extremely high, sought to touch the sky with 
its head, hindered the clouds from moving, the fleecy 
clouds from scudding, and darkened half the sun, be- 
dimmed a third of the earth. 

The young men deliberate, the middle-aged ponder how 
they can live without the moon, how exist without the sun 
in these wretched borderlands, these miserable northern 

They needed someone to fell, to lay low the mischievous 
oak. They searched and found none, they sought and 
discovered no one. Among this people in our land, among 
the fully-grown, among the crowd of men, there was none 
to lay low the mischievous oak, to fell the straight and 
lofty tree. 

A swarthy fellow emerged from the sea, a full-grown 
man from the surge, neither great nor small, but a full- 
grown man of medium size, as tall as a straightened 
thumb \yar. as thick as a summer gadfly], the height of 
three fingers \y. of an ox-hoof] ; on his shoulder lay an 
ornamented axe with an ornamented haft ; on his head he 
wore a tall hat of flagstone, on his feet shoes of stone. 
Well, that man had a mind to fell the oak, to shatter the 
hellish {i-utwion) tree.^ 

1 Red in the face like a strawberry from the exertion, but with 
allusion to the redness of rash and other such skin-diseases. 

2 See note 4, Folk-Lore, i, No. 3, p. 339. 

Magic So7igs of the Finns. • 51 

He advances with tripping gait, approaches with de- 
liberate steps, advanced to the foot of the tree to break 
down the huge oak. He struck the tree with his axe, dealt 
it a blow with its level edge. He struck once, twice, and a 
third time struck a blow. Fire spirted from the axe, flame 
escaped from the oak. 

Some chips of the tree whirled down suddenly, some 
fragments suddenly came wobbling down upon a nameless 
meadow, upon a land without a knoll. Other chips 
scattered, widely dispersed themselves upon the clear and 
open sea, upon the wide and open main. 

Just at the third stroke he cut through the oak, broke the 
hellish tree, suddenly overturned the thriving tree, so that 
the root-end gaped towards the east and the branching 
head fell towards the west across the Pohjola river to serve 
as an eternal bridge for any traveller to pass to gloomy 

A chip that had wobbled down, that had been flung on 
the waters of the sea, upon the clear and open main, upon 
the illimitable waves, did the wind rock to and fro, did the 
restless ocean toss about. A wave wafted it ashore, the 
breakers of the sea steered it into a nameless bay, into one 
unknown by name, where the Hiisi folk reside, where the 
evil people hold their sales. 

Hiisi's iron-toothed dog, that ever runs along the shore, 
chanced to be coursing on the beach, making the gravel 
rattle. He spied the chip in the waves, snapped it up and 
carried it to a maiden's hands, to the finger-tips of Hiisi's 

The maiden looks at it, turns it over, and pronounced 
the following words : " Something might come of it if it 
were in the smithy of a smith, in the hands of a craftsman. 
From it a wizard might get arrows, an archer many in- 

A fiend chanced to overhear, an evil one to observe her. 
The evil one carried the chip to a smithy, makes arrows, 
prepares blunt-headed arrows of it to become stitch and 

E 2 

52 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

pleurisy in men, sudden sickness in horses, ' sharp spikes 
in cattle. 

The devil makes arrows, sharpens spikes inside a steely 
mountain, a rock of iron. He made a little pile of shafts, 
a heap of heavy arrows inside a doorless, windowless 
smithy. He makes the heads of steel, turns the shafts out 
of wood from a bough of the ' fiery' oak, from a sharp spike 
of the red^ tree. He smoothed his arrows and feathered 
them with the small plumes of a swallow, with the tail- 
feathers of a brindled bird. Whence did he get the bind- 
ing thread ? He obtained the binding thread from the 
locks of Hiisi's damsel, from the hair of a melancholy 
creature. After feathering the arrows, with what were they 
encrusted ? With the poison of a viper, with the venom of 
a black snake. Then he selected his best bow and attached 
a string to it made from a wanton stallion's tail, from the 
hair of a full-grown animal. 

He seized the ' fiery' bow, stretched the * fiery' cross- 
bow against his left knee, under his right foot. He took 
the swiftest arrow, selected the best shaft, straightened the 
' fiery' crossbow against his right shoulder, and shot the 
first arrow aloft above his head into the azure sky, into a 
long bank of cloud. The sky was like to split, the aerial 
vault to break, portions of the air to rend, the aerial canopy 
to bend at the anguish caused by the ' fiery' arrow, by 
the sharp spike of Aijo's son. The arrow receded where 
naught was ever heard of it again. 

Then he shot a second arrow into the earth below his 
feet. The earth was like to go to Mana \y. to ignite], the 
hills to powder into mould, the sandy ridges to split, the 
sandy heaths to break in two from the anguish caused by 
the * fiery' arrow, from the burning pain caused by the red 
wood. That arrow constantly receded where naught was 
ever heard of it again. 

1 Further on, in § (<:), the oak is called the murderous tree, so pos- 
sibly ' red' means the blood-stained tree, alluding to the bloody work 
effected by the arrows made from it. ' Fiery' = terrible. 

Magic Songs of the Finns. 53 

Immediately he shot a third, a final and malignant arrow, 
across land and swamp, across deep gloomy forests against 
a steely \y. silver] mountain, against an iron \y. stony] 
rock. The arrow rebounded from the stone, recoiled 
against the rock, and entered a human skin, the body of a 
wretched man. 

Such a shaft may be extricated, such an arrow with- 
drawn always by virtue of the word of God, through the 
Lord's grace. 

Of old a lovely oak grew, a flourishing sapling uprose 
on the shoulder of a sandy ridge, on the crest of a golden 
hillock. Its boughs were somewhat bushy, its foliage 
somewhat ample. Its branching head reached the sky, its 
leafy boughs spread through the air, concealed the rays of 
the sun, obscured the rays of the moon, prevented the 
Great Bear from stretching and the stars of heaven from 

A shiver comes over cattle, a horror over fish in the water, 
a strangeness over birds of the air, and weariness over 
human beings, for the dear sun no longer shines, nor does 
the moonshine diffuse light upon these wretched ones, 
these unfortunates. 

They searched for a man, sought for such an one that 
could break down the oak, fell the splendid lofty tree, 
prostrate the lively tree, clear away the hellish {rutimon) 
tree. None was found to clear away, to smash the brittle 
tree to bits. There was no strong doughty man in our own 
land, in pleasant Finland, in beautiful Karelia to do this ; 
nor did one come from further afield, from daring Sweden, 
from weak Russia, nor from the disputed ground of this 
realm, that could fell the oak, fracture the hellish tree, 
prostrate the hundred-headed oak. 

A \y. small, v. black, v. old, v. iron] man emerged from 
the sea, a full-grown man uprose from the waves. He was 
not very large nor very small ; his height was quarter-ell 

54 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

\v. an ell], a woman's span ; he could lie down under a bowl, 
stand under a sieve. His hair reached down behind to his 
heels, his beard descended in front to his knees. On his 
nape was an iron hat, on his feet were iron boots, on his 
arms were iron sleeves, on his mitts was iron embroidery ; 
an iron belt begirt his waist, behind the belt was an iron 
axe provided with an iron haft, at the end of which was an 
iron knob. 

He sharpens his axe, whetted its level edge on a rock of 
iron, on a mountain tipped with steel, on five Esthonian 
whetstones, on six whetstones, on the sides of seven hones, 
on eight surfaces ; by night he grinds the axe, by day he 
fashions the haft. 

By degrees the axe became sharpened, the haft was 
gradually fashioned. Already a full-grown man had be- 
come full grown, the man had begun to be a man. His 
foot moves proudly on the ground, his head touches the 
clouds, the bristles of his beard shone like a leafy grove 
upon a slope, his hair shook about like a clump of pines 
upon a hill. 

He advances with tripping step, approaches with un- 
steady gait, clad in wide breeches, a fathom wide at the 
foot, one-and-half at the knee, and two fathoms at the 
hips. Once and again he stepped, making an effort to 
approach the oak. One foot he stamped down upon a spot 
of yielding sand, with the other he trod upon the liver- 
coloured earth. Already with the third stride he reached 
the roots of the oak, the barbs and endless torments of the 
red tree. 

He struck firmly with his level-edged axe against the 
oak ; from the tree's side a chip flew off, an outside chip 
splintered off which the wind carried to the great open sea 
to serve as a boat for Vainamoinen, as wood for the singer's 
skiff. Once and again he struck a blow, nor was it long 
before he felled the oak tree to the ground with its crown 
towards the south, the root-end towards the north-east 
inclining due north. 

Magic Songs of the Finns. 55 

He contemplates the chips on the spot where the red 
tree was felled, where the wide spreading oak lay, and thus 
expressed himself in words : " One might get useful wood 
from these branches of the level-headed oak. Whoever 
takes a branch has obtained eternal luck, whoever severs a 
(heavy bough has severed an eternal power to inspire love, 
whoever breaks off a topmost branch has broken off eternal 
magic skill." 

The chips that had scattered, the splinters that fell in 
such a way as to be drifted about on the clear open main, 
were driven by a wave, were tossed by the ocean-swell, 
were jolted by a gust of wind, were floated ashore by the 
water to the end of a long promontory \y. to Tuoni's black 
river] to the beach of an evil pagan. 

Hiisi's tiny little lass, a woman of fair complexion, was 
Avashing dirty linen, besprinkling ragged clouts at the end 
of a long gangway, on the top of a great landing-stage. 
She seized the chips, split them into splinters, cut them 
into chips for cow-litter, gathered them into her wallet, 
carried them in her long thonged wallet to the courtyard 
at home. Here she snatched up the chips in her pouch 
and upsets them about the house. 

Three of her brothers are at home, who interrogate her 
about this : " What might a wizard get from these, what 
would an €i{-sm\\kv {Keito) hammer out?" The maiden 
thus expressed herself: "A craftsman will get something, 
a man of skill will forge something, a wizard will obtain 
wood for arrows, Lempo will get leaf-headed spears and 
Sudden Death pleurisies." 

Hiisi \y. the devil] chanced to overhear, an evil one to 
observe this. He sent his son to a smithy to hammer out 
arrowheads, to forge spears. The laddie went to the 
smithy, makes arrows, hammers out blunt arrowheads, 
prepared a little pile of bolts, a heap of heavy arrows. He 
forged a dozen pikes, made a bundle of spears from the 
branches of the ' fiery' oak, from the hard spikes of the 
red tree. He made them neither great nor small, he made 

56 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

the spears of medium size, with which he stabbed a hundred 
men, kept pricking a thousand. 

The devil took up his pricking-tools, Keito seized the 
spear, kept brandishing his spears, launched angrily his 
sharp spikes, which come as stitch and pleurisy to men, as 
sudden sickness to kine. Hiisi cares nothing where he has 
shot his arrows, whether into a beast with horns, or into a 
neighing horse, or else into a human skin, into the body of 
a woman's son. 

Formerly a great oak grew, a sapling without a blemish 
sprang up. The oak was of an evil sort, with its broad 
head it hid the sun, encompassed the moon with its 
foliage, the Great Bear with its branches. 

To live without light is hard and wearisome for human 
beings, when the sun never shines, when there is no moon- 
shine. No man, no mother's son came forward of the 
rising generation, or indeed of the old men, that could fell 
the oak, could break down the murderous tree. There 
was none in our native land, in these wretched border- 
lands between the two Karelias, a land disputed by three 

They made a search through the country in five parishes, 
in six church districts. But as no one was found they 
made inquiry in heaven. An old man came from heaven 
to all appearance fit. His chest was a fathom wide, the 
hat he wore was a fathom wide, the drawers upon his legs 
were two fathoms wide. On his shoulder rested a golden 
axe with a golden handle, at the end of which was a silver 

He looks about him, turning here and there. With one 
foot he stepped to the edge of a willow-bush, with the other 
he advanced to the root of the sappy oak. He hacked 
the sappy oak, kept slashing at the level-topped tree, 
strikes off the top eastwards, casts the root-end north- 
westwards. Every chip of it that he cut off became 
a water-lily leaf, every branch that he strewed around got 

Magic Songs of the Finns. 57 

lost in the sea, to be drifted by waves, dashed about by 
the breakers. 

A cur dog of the shore appeared, one that used to run 
by the riverside. It ran from stone to stone, it sprang 
from one fir branch to another, saw something black upon 
the sea, picked it up, and gave it into an elf-smith's {Keito) 
hands, into the fingers of a hideous man. The elf-smith 
grasped it in his hands, looked at it, turned it^over : " Why, 
arrows might be made of this, blunt-headed arrows might 
be fashioned." 

He smoothed a pile of shafts, a heap of triply-plumed 
arrows out of what had been broken off the oak, had been 
splintered off the brittle tree. Each one that he finished 
his sons feathered with the tiny plumes of a bullfinch, 
with the feathers of a sparrow's wing, with the bristles of 
a boar, with the shaggy down of a spider. 

The evil one has three sons, one a cripple, the second lame, 
and the third stone-blind. The cripple strings the bow, the 
lame one holds the arrows, the stone-blind one shoots. The 
cripple strung the bow and gave it into the archer's hand. 
The stone-blind archer makes trial of his arrows near 
swamps and solid ground, near long farmyards. He shot 
a singly-feathered arrow aloft into the sky, into the oozy 
clouds, into the swirling, fleecy clouds. The sky shattered 
into holes, the atmosphere into apertures. He himself 
uttered these words : " The arrow has whizzed somewhere 
whence it will never return, nor is that by any means 
specially desired." 

He shot a doubly-feathered arrow into the ground below 
his feet. The earth below suddenly splits, its mould 
instantaneously fissures, all at once strong boulder-stones 
give a crash, and stones upon the shore rend. The arrow 
whizzed somewhere whence it will never return. 

He shot a triply-feathered arrow at the hill of Pohjola 
\v. Hiitola], against the lofty mountain, against the wooded 
\v. iron] hill. He shot so that it deflected from the stone, 
glanced sideways off the rock, rebounded from the stone. 

58 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

recoiled from the rock. Then it wanted to strike animals, 
to enter a human skin, the body of a woman's son ; but 
there is no place for it there whence it may return. 

A ' fiery' oak grew on a ' fiery' plain. A boy came 
from Pohjola, a full-grown man from the cold village, 
trailing behind a small hand-sledge on which lies a little 
.axe with a haft an ell long, with an edge a span high ; the 
edge is new, the haft old. On his hands he wears new 
gloves worked with old embroidery. With his hands he 
began to batter the ' fiery' tree, to smash the ' sparkling' 
•oak. He hewed it into splinters, cut it into chips, into 
litter for cows. A wind carried them to sea to be drifted 
by the sea waves to Tuoni's dark river, to the under- 
lake of Manala. From them a wizard gets arrows, a devil 
pricking instruments. 

The devil manufactures arrows, Lempo leaf-headed spears 
from branches of the ' fiery' oak, from splinters of the evil 
tree in a doorless, windowless smithy. An arrow from the 
devil, a leaf-headed spear from Lempo whizzed into a 
wretched human being's skin, into the body of one born of 
a woman. 


Udutar (daughter of Mist), Nature's daughter, Terhetar 
(d. of Fog), the sharp girl sifted mist with a sieve, kept 
scattering fog at the end of a misty promontory, at the 
extremity of a foggy island ; from which circumstance 
burning pains have their origin, burning pains and pleurisies, 
in a naked skin, in a body racked with pain. 

XXXVI. — Swelling on the Neck. 

Strange swelling ! Lempo's lump ! I know your family, 
from what, excrescence ! you originated, from what, horror 
•of the land ! you were bred, out of what, ' whorl of Lempo !' 
you were spun, out of what, ball of Lempo ! you swelled 

Magic Songs of the Finns. 59 

up on the place where breath is breathed, on the narrow 
muscles of the neck. Your family is from the mist/ your 
mother is from the mist, your father from the mist, your 
ancestor is from it, your five brothers are there, the six 
•daughters of your godfather, your paternal uncle's seven 
children. Pray remove yourself to nameless meadows 
unknown by name. 

XXXVII. — The Origin of the Tooth-Worm. 


You fidgety, globular being ! the size of a seed of flax, 
looking like a flax-seed, that destroys the teeth, keeps 
•cutting the jaw-bones, I know, indeed, your family, and all 
your up-bringing. A black [i-. iron] man emerged from 
the sea, from the waves uprose a full-grown man, the 
height of a straightened thumb, the stature of a man's 
finger. A single hair comes wafted by the wind. A beard 
:grew from the hair, and on the beard was engendered 
a worm. Owing to this the low wretch came, the evil 
pagan removed into the beloved jaw-bones, the dearly- 
cherished teeth, to devour and gnaw, to crunch, rasp, and 
play havoc with the jaws, and hack the teeth. 

There now is your family, there is your likeness. 


A furious old quean \ik Vainamoinen's old wife], the 
stout woman Luonnotar [t-. sturdy old Vainamoinen], set 
to work to sweep the sea, to mop the billows with a broom, 
wearing on her head a textile of sparks, with a cloak of 
foam over her shoulders. She swept a whole day, swept 
the next day, forthwith swept a third whole day. The 
refuse gathered in her broom, in her copper besom. She 
was anxious to remove it, so she raised the besom from 
the waves, made the copper handle twirl high above her 
1 Or, " from Sumu'', regarding it as a place-name. 

6o Magic Songs of the Finns. 

head. The refuse stuck fast in the besom, so she seized it 
with her teeth, whereupon an aching pain seized her teeth, 
a full-grown devil her jaw. Hence that evil one \y. can- 
nibal] was bred, that biter of bone came to close quarters, 
that keeps rustling in the jaw-bone, that hacks the teeth, 
digs into the whole head, and keeps gnawing at the members. 

The stout woman Luonnotar, the furious old quean, 
went to find a broom in a leafy grove, to get material for 
a besom in a copse. A pin fell from her bosom, a copper 
pin dropped suddenly, fell rustling into the withered grass, 
with a jingling noise into the hay. Hence the worm was 
bred, hence in the dearly-cherished teeth, in the unfortu- 
nate cheek-bones originated Tuoni's grub that eats bone, 
bites flesh, and plays havoc with the teeth. 

A blind girl of Pohjola, Vainamoinen's old servant-girl, 
was dusting his small chamber, was sweeping the floor, 
when a piece of dirt fell from the broom, a twig snapt off 
the besom upon the swept floor, upon the dusted boards, 
near the seams of the planks. Hence the devourer origin- 
ated, hence the gnawer was bred which shot itself into 
a mouth, then slid down upon the tongue and stumbled 
forwards to the teeth, in order to feed upon the blood- 
filled flesh, to rack with pain the blood-filled bones. 

The evil house-mistress, Syojatar, iron's old house-mother, 
Rakehetar (Hailstone's daughter), pulverised grains of iron, 
hammered steel points upon an iron rock in an alder-wood 
mortar with a pestle of alder-wood in a room built of 
alder-wood. She sifted what she had pounded, and gobbled 
up those 'groats' of hers. Bits went astray among the 
teeth and settled themselves in the gums, in order to hack 
the teeth, to rack the jaw-bones with pain. 

Magic Songs of the Finns. 6i 

A wee man emerged from the sea with a tiny axe in 
his hand and a little billhook under his arm. He encoun- 
tered an oak upon the path, a gigantic tree upon the 
shore. He struck the tree with his axe, dealt it a blow 
with the level edge. A chip stuck very firmly to the axe. 
With tooth and nail he tried to detach it. Then the 
obstruction stuck in his mouth, an aching pain took pos- 
session of his teeth, a stench diffused itself in his jaws. 
Hence the great devourer, the evil hacker of the teeth 

A fox carried off and crunched a fragment of bone as 
he ran along between two rocks, along the slopes of five 
mountains. Hence, indeed, the worm was bred, hence 
originated Tuoni's grub, that spread itself as far as the 
jaws, and played havoc with the teeth. 

XXXVIII. — The Origin of Cancer and White 

Cancer was born in Cottage Creek, at the mouth of the 
Jordan river. Harlots rinsed their linen caps at the mouth 
of the Jordan. Hence, then, a cancer was bred, hence the 
bone-biter made its appearance that bites bone, eats flesh, 
sucks blood raw without its being cooked in a pot, with- 
out its being heated in a copper. The ' dog' set off to 
run about, the ' worm' began to crawl ; went to corrupt 
bone, to macerate flesh, to make it suppurate, to cause it 
to swell in the shape of boils and white swellings. 

XXXIX. — The Origin of Ale. 

The origin of ale is known, the first beginning of drink 
is guessed. The origin of ale is from barley, of the noble 

62 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

drink from hops, though it is not produced without water 
nor yet without fire. 

Hops, the son of Boisterous {Remunen), was poked, was 
ploughed into the ground as a small snake, as an ant^ was 
thrown down at the side of the well of Kaleva, on the un- 
ploughed edge of Osmo's field. From it a young shoot 
sprang up, a green tendril uprose, which mounted into 
a little tree and stretched towards its head. 

Osmo's \z>. Luck's] old man sowed barley at the end of 
Osmo's field. The barley grew splendidly, sprouted most 
perfectly at the end of Osmo's new field, in the cleared 
land of the son of Kaleva. 

Osmotar the brewer of ale, the woman that brews small 
beer, took up six grains of barley, seven clusters of hops 
eight ladlesful of water, put a pot on the fire, and brought 
the brew to boiling-point. She let the barley ale simmer 
for a whole summer day. She managed to boil the ale,, 
but could not get it to ferment. 

She reflects and turns over in her mind what she might 
add to make the ale ferment, to make the small beer 
work. She saw wild mustard in the ground, rubbed it 
with both palms, grated it with both hands against her 
thighs, and rubbed out a golden-breasted martin. 

When she obtained it, she exclaimed : " My little martin ! 
my pet ! go where I command, into the gloomy wilds of 
a forest where mares are wont to fight, where stallions 
battle savagely. In your hands let their froth drip, with 
your hands collect their lather to serve as ferment for the 
ale, as yeast to make the small beer work." 

Thus advised, the obedient martin hurried ofif at full 
speed, soon had run a long distance, to the gloomy wilds of 
a forest where mares are wont to fight, where stallions 
battle savagely. Froth dripped from a mare's mouth,, 
slaver from a stallion's muzzle, which it brought to the 
woman's hand, to the shoulder of Osmotar. 

^ I.e., possessing the venomous or pungent qualities of a snake of 
of an ant. 

Magic Songs of the Finns. 65. 

The woman upset it into her small beer, Osmotar into 
her ale. The ale became depraved, made men deficient of 
sense, caused the half-witted to brawl, the fools to play the 
fool, the children to cry, and other folk to grieve. 

The lovely maiden Kalevatar, a girl with neat fingers^. 
brisk in her movements, ever light of foot, was moving over 
a seam of the planks, dancing about on the centre of the 
floor, when she saw a leaf upon the floor and picked it up. 
She looks at it, turns it over : " What would come of this, 
in the hands of a lovely woman, in the fingers of a kindly 
maiden ? " 

She placed it in a woman's hands, in the fingers of a 
kindly miaiden. The woman rubbed it with both her' 
hands against her thighs, and thereby a bee was born. 
The bee, the lively bird, flew away at full speed, soon flew 
a long distance, quickly reduced the intervening space, to 
an island in the open main, to a skerry in the sea, to a. 
honey-dripping meadow, to the margin of a honeyed 
field. A short interval elapsed, a very little time slipped by,, 
already it returns buzzing, making a mighty fuss, brought 
virgin honey on its wing, carried honey under its cloak,, 
which it placed in the woman's hand, in the fingers of the 
kindly maiden. 

Osmotar thrust it into her ale, the woman into her small 
beer. Then the new drink began to rise, the ruddy ale 
to work in the new wooden vat, in the two-handled tub of 
birch. The ale, the extract to be drunk by men, was ready 
for use. 

Hops shouted from a tree ; water whispered from a 
stream ; barley from the edge of a ploughed field : " When 
shall we get together, when unite one with the other, at the 
feast of All-hallows {Kekri), or at Yule, or not till Easter- 
tide ? 'Tis tedious living alone, 'tis pleasanter in twos and 

The kindly maiden, the girl of Pohja [v. Osmotar the 

64 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

brewer of ale], reflects and ponders : " What would happen 
were I to bring them together and unite them, causing each 
one to meet the others ? " 

A redstart sang from a tree : " A noble drink would be 
obtained, good ale would result from them in the hands of 
a skilful maker, one that rightly understands." 

The kindly maiden, the girl of Pohja, plucks clusters of 
hops, gathered grains of barley, drew water from the eddy 
of a stream. These she united, intermingled one with the 
other, and intended to brew in a new two-handled tub of 
birch. Stones were heated for a month, a forest of trees 
was burnt, water was boiled a whole summer \y. a sea of 
water was boiled], ale was brewed for a whole winter. A 
wagtail \v. titmouse] fetched water, a bee brought honey to 
make the new drink ferment. Owing to that the new drink 
fermented in the two-handled tub of birch, foamed up to a 
level with the handles, bubbled above the rim, was like to 
splutter on the ground, to fall upon the floor. Hence the 
violent one was known, was judged, was supposed at the 
proper time to pour upon the earth for the benefit of the 
earth before it became great. 

The kindly maiden, the girl of Pohja, gave utterance to 
words : " How unlucky I am ! alas my thoughtless deeds ! 
for 1 have brewed bad ale, have produced an intractable 
small beer. It has swelled up to the handles, it inundates 
the floor." 

A redstart sang from a tree, a thrush from the eaves : 
" It does not pertain to poor living, 'tis a drink that pertains 
to good living, that should be emptied into tuns, trans- 
ported into cellars in oaken barrels, in butts with copper 

Small Beer expressed himself cleverly, took up the word 
and said : " 'Tis bad to live inside a half-tun behind a copper 
tap. If you do not provide singers, do not invite merry 
ones, I will spirt out foaming from the barrel, will escape 
from the half-tun, will kick the half-tun into two, will bang 
the bottom out with blows, will move to another farmhouse, 

Magic Songs of the Finns. 65 

to the neighbour's over the fence where people drink with 
jollity and roar with merriment." 

Such was the beginning and origin of ale. From what 
did it obtain its good name, its famous reputation ? A cat 
called out from the stove, a puss from the end of a bench 
exclaimed : '* If this pertains to good living {Jiyvd-oloinen) 
may its name be ale {olut)." 

Hence ale obtained its name,^ its famous reputation, as 
it pertained to good living, was a good drink for the tem- 
perate, gave laughing mouths to women, a cheery mind to 
men, caused the temperate to be merry, the boisterous to 
stagger \y, fight]. 

The late Professer Ahlqvist- gives a Mordvin example 
of " the origin of ale", which is short enough to tran- 

" Where does hops originate, where does hops grow ? 
It originates in a damp spot, in a willow copse, its seed is a 
white pearl. The wind blew, puffed it. Whither, whither 
did it puff it ? To the bank of a river, into a cook-house 
it puffed it, in the cook-house they are brewing ale. It 
puffed it to the edge of a vat, where it began speaking with 
the rye : ' Mother Rye, Mother Rye, allow us who are 
speechless to begin to speak, us who do not fight to begin 
to fight, us who do not dance to begin to dance.' " 

XL. — The Origin of Brandy. 

From what has brandy originated, from what has the 
lovely drink grown ? Brandy has been brought forth, the 
lovely drink has been produced from the beards of young 

^ An example of popular etymology. The word for ale, olut, dimi- 
nutive olonen, is erroneously supposed to be derived from olotnen, 
living, existent. 

' Muistelmia Matkoilta Vencijcilld, p. i66. 


66 Magic Songs of the Finns. 

barley, from the bristly heads of green corn, but it is not 
produced without water, not yet without a raging fire. 
Water caused it to be lively, fire made it raging. 

John Abercromby. 

( To be continued.) 


THE following beliefs regarding Guardian Spirits of 
Wells and Lochs were collected in Strathdon and 
Corgarff, Aberdeenshire, by the help of Mr. William Michie 
Farmer, Coull of Newe, and Mr. James Farquharson, 
Corgarff. Distance from libraries and want of books of 
reference have prevented me from quoting similar beliefs 
among other nations and tribes except in the very slightest 
way. I have contented myself with merely stating the 

Tobar-fuar-m6r, i.e., The Big Cold Well. 

This well is situated at the bottom of a steep hill in a 
fork between two small streams on the estate of Allargue, 
Corgarff There are three springs that supply the water, 
distant from each other about a yard. The well is circular, 
with a diameter of about twelve feet. The sides are about 
five or six feet deep, with an opening on the lower side 
through which the water flows out. 

The water running from these springs is of great virtue 
in curing diseases — each spring curing a disease. One 
spring cured blindness, another cured deafness, and the 
third lameness. The springs were guarded by a Spirit 
that lived under a large stone, called " The Kettle Stone", 
which lay between two of the springs. No cure was 
effected unless gold was presented to the Spirit, which she 
placed in a kettle below the stone. Hence its name of 
"Kettle Stone". If one tried to rob the Spirit, death, by 
some terrible accident, soon followed. My informant, 
James Farquharson, more than fifty years ago, when a lad 

F 2 

68 Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs. 

resolved to remove the " Kettle Stone" from its position, 
and so become possessor of the Spirit's gold. He accord- 
ingly set out with a few companions, all provided with picks 
and spades, to displace the stone. After a good deal of 
hard labour the stone was moved from its site, but no 
kettle-full of gold was found. 

An old woman met the lads on their way to their homes, 
and when she learnt what they had been doing she assured 
them they would all die within a few weeks, and that a 
terrible death would befall the ringleader. 


Grey Wood. 

This well lies near the old military road, near the top of 
the hill that divides the glen of Corgarff from Glengairn. 
In a small knoll near it lived a spiteful Spirit that went by 
the name of Duine-glase-beg, i.e., the Little Grey Man. He 
was guardian of the well and watched over its water with 
great care. Each one on taking a draught of water from it 
had to drop into it a pin or other piece of metal. If this 
was not done, and if at any time afterwards the same 
person attempted to draw water from it, the Spirit resisted, 
annoyed, and hunted the unfortunate till death by thirst 
came. My informant has seen the bottom of the well strewed 
with pins. Last autumn (1891), I gathered several pins 
from it. 

The Bride's Well. 

This well was at one time the favourite resort of all brides 
for miles around. On the evening before the marriage the 
bride, accompanied by her maidens, went " atween the sun 
an the sky" to it. The maidens bathed her feet and the upper 
part of her body with water drawn from it. This bathing 
ensured a family. The bride put into the well a few 
crumbs of bread and cheese, to keep her children from ever 
being in want. 

Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs. 69 

ToBAR Vacher. 

This is a fine well, dedicated to St. Machar, near the 
present farm of Corriehoul, Corgarff, Strathdon. A Roman 
Catholic chapel was at one time near it, and the present 
graveyard occupies the site of the chapel. This well was 
renowned for the cures it wrought in more than one kind 
of disease. To secure a cure the ailing one had to leave a 
silver coin in it. Once there was a famine in the district, 
and not a few were dying of hunger. The priest's house 
stood not far from the well. One day, during the famine, his 
housekeeper came to him and told him that their stock of 
food was exhausted, and that there was no more to be got 
in the district. The priest left the house, went to the well, 
and cried to St. Machar for help. On his return he told the 
servant to go to the well the next morning at sunrise, walk 
three times round it, in the name of the Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost, without looking into it, and draw from it a 
draught of water for him. She carried out the request. 
On stooping down to draw the water she saw three fine 
salmon swimming in the well. They were caught, and 
served the two as food till supply came to the famine- 
stricken district from other quarters. 

Ben Newe Well. 

There is a big rugged rock on the top of Ben Newe in 
Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, On the north side of this rock, 
under a projection, there is a small circular-shaped hollow 
which always contains water. Everyone that goes to the 
top of the hill must put some small object into it, and then 
take a draught of water off it. Unless this is done the 
traveller will not reach in life the foot of the hill. I climbed 
the hill in June of 1890, and saw in the well several pins, a 
small bone, a pill-box, a piece of a flower, and a few other 

70 Guardian Spirits of Wells a^id Lochs. 

In Roumania each spring is supposed to be presided 
over by a Spirit called Wodna zena or zofia. When a 
Roumanian woman draws water she spills a few drops to 
do homage to this Spirit. — TJie Land beyond the Forest, vol. 
ii, p. 8, by E. Gerard (1888, Edinburgh). 


This is a small loch on the side of the old military road 
between Gorgarff and Tomintoul. The road passes close 
by its brink on the west side. On the other side of the 
road is an almost perpendicular rock, between 400 and 
500 feet high. On the opposite side of the loch rises a very 
steep hill to the height of about 1,000 feet. The road in a 
snow-storm and after nightfall is very dangerous, and 
tradition has it that many travellers have lost their lives in 
the loch, and that their bodies were never recovered. It 
was believed to be bottomless, and to be the abode of a 
Water-Spirit that delighted in human sacrifice. 

Notwithstanding this bloodthirsty Spirit, the men of 
Strathdon and Gorgarff resolved to try to draw the water 
from the loch in hope of finding the remains of those that 
had perished in it. On a fixed day a number of them met, 
with spades and picks to cut a way for the outflow of the 
water through the road. When all were ready to begin 
work, a terrific yell came from the loch, and there arose 
from its waters a diminutive creature in shape of a man 
with a red cap on his head. The men fled in terror, 
leaving their picks and spades behind them. The Spirit 
seized them and threw them into the loch. Then, with a 
gesture of defiance at the fleeing men, and a roar that 
shook the hills, he plunged into the loch and disappeared 
amidst the water that boiled and heaved as red as blood. 

LocHAN-WAN, i.e., Lambs' Loch. 
Lochan-wan is a small loch, in a fine grazing district, 
lying on the upper confines of Aberdeen and Banffshire. 

Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs. 7 1 

When the following took place the grazing ground was 
common, and the tenants that lived adjoining it had each 
the privilege of pasturing a certain number of sheep on it. 
Each one that sent sheep to this common had to offer in 
sacrifice to the Spirit of the loch the first lamb of his flock 
dropped on the common. The omission of this sacrifice 
brought disaster, for, unless the sacrifice was made, half of 
his flock would be drowned before the end of the grazing 

An attempt was at one time made to draw the water 
from the loch, and so dry it, that the burden of the yearly- 
sacrifice might be got quit of A number of men met and 
began to cut an outlet for the water. They wrought all 
day without hindrance, and, when night came, they re- 
tired. On returning next morning they found that their 
work of the day before had been all undone during night. 
Again they busily applied their tools, and did a good day's 
work. This day's work was again undone during night. 
The third day was again spent in hard toil, but it was re- 
solved to watch during the night how it was that the work 
carried out during each day was undone at night. A 
watch was accordingly set. At the hour of midnight there 
rose from the loch hundreds of small black creatures, each 
carrying a spade. They immediately fell to work on what 
the men had done during the day, and, in the course of a 
few minutes, filled up the trench that they had dug three 
times before. The grazing common is now a deer-forest, 
and so the Lambs' Loch no longer needs the sacrifice of 

Loch Leetie. 

This is a loch in Nairnshire. It was the common belief 
that a bull lived in it. He was often heard roaring very 
loudly, particulariy during frost. (Told by Mrs. Miller.) 

At one time there lived near the Linn of Dee, in Mar 
Forest, a man named Farquharson-na-cat, i.e., Farquharson 
of the wand. He got this name from the fact that his 

72 Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs. 

trade was that of making baskets, sculls, etc. One night 
he had to cross the river just a little above the linn. In 
doing so he lost his footing, was carried into the gorge of 
the linn, and drowned in sight of his wife. Search was 
made at once for the body, but in vain. Next day the 
pool below the linn, as well as the river further down, was 
searched, but the body was not found. That evening the 
widow took her late husband's plaid and went to the pool 
below the linn, " atween the sun and the sky". She folded 
the plaid in a particular way, knelt down on the bank of the 
pool, and prayed to the Spirit of the pool to give up the 
body of her drowned husband. She then threw the plaid 
into the pool, uttering the words, " Take that and give me 
back my dead." Next morning the dead body, wrapped 
in the plaid, was found lying on the bank of the pool. 
Tradition has it that the widow soon afterwards bore a son, 
and that that son was the progenitor of the Farquharson 

The river Spey is spoken of as " she", and bears the 
character of being " bloodthirsty". The common belief is 
that " she" must have at least one victim yearly. 

The rhyme about the rivers Dee and Don and their 
victims is : 

" Bloodthirsty Dee, 
Each year needs three ; 
But bonny Don, 
She needs none." 

The Roumanians believe that in the vicinity of deep 
pools of water, more especially whirlpools, there resides 
the baleur or wodna viuz — the cruel waterman who lies in 
wait for human victims. {The Land beyond the Forest, by 
E. Gerard, vol. ii, p. 9.) 

Mr. A. Oldfield, in his account of TJie Aborigines of 
Australia, says that the natives believe that every deep 
muddy pool is inhabited by a Spirit called In-gnas, whose 

Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs. 73 

powers for mischief seem particularly active during night. 
Some such pools they will not enter for any consideration, 
even in broad daylight. ( Transactions of the Ethnological 
Society, vol. iii, pp. 238, 239. New Series.) See Grimm's 
Deutsche Mythologie (3rd edition), vol. i, pp. 549-567. 

W. Gregor. 



IN my previous paper I made allusion to several wells of 
greater or less celebrity in the Island ; but I find that 
I have a few remarks to add. Mr. Arthur Moore, in his 
book on Manx Surnames and Place-Names, p. 200, men- 
tions a Chibber Unjin, which means the Well of the Ash- 
tree, and he states that there grew near it " formerly 
a sacred ash-tree, where votive offerings were hung". The 
ash-tree calls to his mind Scandinavian legends respecting 
the ash, but in any case one may suppose the ash was not 
the usual tree to expect by a well in the Isle of Man^ 
otherwise this one would scarcely have been distinguished 
as the Ash-tree Well. The tree to expect by a sacred 
well is doubtless some kind of thorn, as in the case of 
Chibber Undin in the parish of Malew. The name means 
Foundation Well, so called in reference probably to the 
foundations of an ancient cell, or keeill as it is called in 
Manx, which lie close by, and are found to measure 2 1 feet 
long by 12 feet broad. The following is Mr. Moore's 
account of the well in his book already cited, p. 181 • 
" The water of this well is supposed to have curative 
properties. The patients who came to it, took a mouthful 
of water, retaining it in their mouths till they had twice 
walked round the well. They then took a piece of cloth 
from a garment which they had worn, wetted it with the 
water from the well, and hung it on the hawthorn-tree 
which grew there. When the cloth had rotted away, the 
cure was supposed to be effected." 

Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 75 

I visited the spot a few years ago in the company of the 
Rev. E. B. Savage of St. Thomas's Parsonage, Douglas, 
and we found the well nearly dried up in consequence of 
the drainage of the field around it ; but the remains of the 
old cell were there, and the thorn-bush had strips of cloth 
or calico tied to its branches. We cut off one, which is 
now in the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford. The account 
Mr. Savage had of the ritual observed at the well differed 
a little from that given by Mr. Moore, especially in the 
fact that it made the patient who had been walking round 
the well with water from the well in his mouth, empty that 
water finally into a rag from his clothing : the rag was 
then tied to a branch of the thorn. It does not appear 
that the kind of tree mattered much ; nay, a tree was not, 
it seems to me, essential. At any rate, St. Maughold's 
Well has no tree growing near it now ; but it is right to 
say, that when Mr. Kermode and I visited it, we could find 
no rags left near the spot, nor indeed could we expect to 
find any, as there was nothing to which they might be 
tied on that windy headland. The absence of the tree 
does not, however, prove that the same sort of ritual was 
not formerly observed at St. Maughold's Well as at Chibber 
Undin ; and here I must mention another well which 
1 have visited in the Island more than once. It is on the 
side of Bradda Hill, a little above the village of Bradda, 
and in the direction of Fleshwick : I was attracted to it by 
the fact that it had, as I had been told by Mr. Savage, 
near it formerly an old cell or kceill, and the name of the 
saint to which it belonged may probably be gathered from 
the name of the well, which, in the Manx of the south of 
the Island, is Chibbyrt Valtane, pronounced approximately 
Chilvurt Valtane or AlSane. The personal name would be 
written in modern Manx in its radical form as Baltane, 
and if it occurred in the genitive in old inscriptions I should 
expect to find it written Baltagni. It is, however, un- 
known to me, but to be placed by the side of the name of 
the saint after whom the parish of Santon is called in the 

76 Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 

south-east of the island. This is pronounced in Manx 
approximately^ Santane or San'Sane,and would have yielded 
an early inscriptional nominative Sanctagnus, which, in 
fact, occurs on an old stone near Llandudno on the oppo- 
site coast : see Rhys's Lectures on Welsh Philology, p. 371^. 
To return to the well, it would seem to have been asso- 
ciated with an old cell, but it has no tree growing by it. 
Mr. Savage and I were told, nevertheless, that a boy who 
had searched a short time previously had got some coins 
out of it, quite recent ones, consisting of halfpennies or 
pennies, so far as I remember. On my observing to one 
of the neighbours that I saw no rags there, I was assured 
that there had been some ; and, on my further saying that 
I saw no tree there to which they could be tied, I was told 
that they used to be attached to the brambles, which grew 
there in great abundance. Thus it appears to me that, in 
the Isle of Man at any rate, a tree to bear the rags was 
not an essential adjunct of a holy well. 

There is another point to which I should like to call 
attention, namely, the habit of writing about the rags as 
offerings, which they are not in all cases. The offerings 
are the coins, beads, buttons, or pins thrown into the 
well, or placed in a receptacle for the purpose close to the 
well. The rags may belong to quite a different order of 
things : they may be the vehicles of the diseases which the 
patients communicate to them when they spit out the 
well-water from their mouths. The rags are put up to 
rot, so that the disease supposed to cling to them may 
also die ; and so far is this believed to be the case, that 
anyone who carries away one of the rags may expect to 

^ I say 'approximately', as, more strictly speaking, the ordinary 
pronunciation is Snfiaen, almost as one syllable, and from this arises 
a variant, which is sometimes written Siotidatte, while the latest 
English development, regardless of the accentuation of the Anglo- 
Manx form Santon (pronounced Sdntn), makes the parish into a St. 
Ann's ! For the evidence that it was the parish of a St. Sanctan (or 
Sanctagnus\ see Moore's Siir)ia7nes, p. 209. 

Manx Folk-lore and Super stitio7is. jj 

attract the disease communicated to it by the one who left 
it near the holy well. So it is highly desirable that the 
distinction between the ofiferings and the accursed things 
should be observed, at any rate in writing of holy wells in 
the Isle of Man. How far the same distinction is to be 
found elsewhere I am unable to say ; but the question is 
one which deserves attention. 

From the less known saints Baltane and Santane I wish 
to pass to the mention of a more famous one, namely, 
St. Catherine, and this because of a fair called after her, 
and held on the 6th day of December at the village of 
Colby in the south of the Island. When I heard of this 
fair in 1888, it was in temporary abeyance on account of 
a lawsuit respecting the plot of ground on which the fair is 
wont to be held ; but I was told that it usually began with 
a procession, in which a live hen is carried about : this is 
called St. Catherine's hen. The next day the hen is 
carried about dead and plucked, and a rhyme pronounced 
at a certain point in the proceeding contemplates the 
burial of the hen, but whether that ever took place I know 
not. It runs thus : 

" Kiark Catrina marroo : 
Gows yn kiojie as goyms fiy cassyn, 
As ver mayd ee fdn thalloo." 

" Cathrine's hen is dead : 
The head take thou and I the feet, 
And we shall put her under ground." 

A man who is found to be not wholly sober after the fair 
is locally said to have plucked a feather from the hen 
(Teh er goaill fedjag ass y ddark) ; so it would seem that 
there must be such a scramble to get at the hen, and to 
take part in the plucking, that it requires a certain 
amount of drink to allay the thirst of the over-zealous 
devotees of St. Catherine. But why should this ceremony 
be associated with St. Catherine? and what were the 

yS Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 

origin and meaning of it ? These are questions which 
I should be glad to have expounded by the Society, for 
I have not had time to consult Mr. Eraser's Golden Bough, 
in order to see if it gives any close parallel to the proceed- 
ings of the good people of Colby. 

Manx has a word quaail (Irish coinhdhdzl), meaning a 
* meeting', and from it we have a derivative qiiaaltagh or 
qtialtagh, meaning, according to Kelly's Dictionary, "the 
first person or creature one meets going from home", 
whereby the author probably meant the first person met 
by one who is going from home. Kelly goes on to add 
that " this person is of great consequence to the super- 
stitious, particularly to women the first time they go out 
after lying-in". Cregeen, in his Dictionary, defines the 
qualtagh as " the first person met on New Year's Day, or 
on going on some new work, etc." Before proceeding to 
give you my notes on the qualtagh of the present day 
I may as well finish with Cregeen, for he adds the following 
information : " A company of young lads or men, generally 
went in old times on what they termed the Qualtagh, at 
Christmas or New Year's Day, to the houses of their more 
wealthy neighbours ; some one of the company repeating 
in an audible voice the following rhyme : — 

" Ollick ghennal erriu as blein feer vie, 
Seihll as slaynt da'n slane lught thie ; 
Bea as gennallys eu bio ry-cheilley, 
Shee as graih eddyr mrane as deiney ; 
Cooid as cowryn, stock as stoyr, 
Palchey phuddase, as skaddan dy-liooar ; 
Arran as caashey, eeym as roayrt ; 
Baase, myr lugh, ayns uhllin ny soalt ; 
Cadley sauchey tra vees shiu ny Ihie, 
As feeackle y jargan, nagh bee dy mie." 

It may be loosely translated as follows : — 

" A merry Christmas, a happy new year, 
Long life and health to the household here. 

Manx Folk-lore and Siiperstitions. 79 

Food and mirth to you dwelling together, 
Peace and love to all, men and women ; 
Wealth and distinction, stock and store, 
Potatoes enough, and herrings galore ; 
Bread and cheese, butter and plenty, 
Death, like a mouse, in a barn or haggard ; 
Sleep in safety while down you lie, 
And the flea's tooth — may it not badly bite." 

At present New Year's Day is the time when the qualtagh 
is of general interest, and in this case he is practically the 
first person one sees (besides the members of one's own 
household) on the morning of that day, whether that person 
meets one out of doors or comes to one's house. The 
following is what I have learnt by inquiry as to the 
qualtagh : all are agreed that he must not be a woman or 
girl, and that he must not be spaagagJi or splay-footed, 
while a woman from the parish of Marown told me that he 
must not have red hair. The prevalent belief, however, is 
that he should be a dark-haired man or boy, and it is of 
no consequence how rough his appearance may be, pro- 
vided he be black-haired. However, I was told by one 
man in Rushen that the qualtagh need not be black- 
haired : he must be a man or boy. But this less restricted 
view is not the one held in the central and northern parts 
of the Island, so far as I could ascertain. An English lady 
living in the neighbourhood of Castletown told me that 
her son, whom I know to be, like his mother, a pronounced 
blond, not being aware what consequences might be asso- 
ciated with his visit, called at a house in Castletown on the 
morning of New Year's Day, and he chanced to be the 
qualtagh. The mistress of the house was horrified, and 
expressed her anticipation of misfortunes to the English 
lady ; and as it happened that one of the children of the 
house died in the course of the year, the English lady has 
heard of it since. Naturally the association of these events 
are not pleasant to her ; but, so far as I can remem.ber, 
they date only some eight or nine years ago. 

8o Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 

The Society may have pubHshed information on this 
subject, but I am at present utterly ignorant what import- 
ance the qualtagh may have enjoyed in other parts of the 
British Isles. As to Wales, I can only recall, that, when 
I was a very small boy, I used to be sent very early on 
New Year's morning to call on an old uncle of mine, 
because, as I was told, I should be certain to receive 
a calennig or a calendary gift from him, but on no account 
would my sister be allowed to go, as he would only see 
a boy on such an occasion as that. I do not recollect 
anything being said as to the colour of one's hair or the 
shape of one's foot ; but that sort of negative evidence is 
of very little value, as the qualtagh was fast passing out of 

The preference here given to a boy over a girl looks 
like one of the widely-spread superstitions which rule against 
the fair sex ; but, as to the colour of the hair, I should be 
predisposed to think that it possibly rests on racial anti- 
pathy, long ago forgotten ; for it may perhaps be regarded 
as going back to a time when the dark-haired race reckoned 
the Aryan of fair complexion as his natural enemy, the 
very sight of whom brought with it thoughts calculated to 
make him unhappy and despondent. If this idea prove to 
be approximately correct, one might suggest that the racial 
distinction in question referred to the struggles between 
the inhabitants of Man and their Scandinavian conquerors ; 
but to my thinking it is just as likely that it goes far 
further back. 

Lastly, what is one to say with regard to the spaagagh 
or splay-footed person, now more usually defined as flat- 
footed or having no instep ? I have heard it said in the 
south of the Island that it is unlucky to meet a spaagagh in 
the morning at any time of the year, and not on New 
Year's Day alone ; but this does not help us in the attempt 
to find the genesis of this belief If it were said that it 
was unlucky to meet a deformed person, it would look 
somewhat more natural ; but why fix on the flat-footed 

Manx Folk-lore and SiLperstitions. 8 1 

especially? For my part I have not been trained to 
distinguish flat-footed people, so I do not recollect noticing 
any in the Isle of Man ; but, granting there may be 
a small proportion of such people in the Island, does it 
not seem to you strange that they should have their 
importance so magnified as this superstition would seem 
to do ? I must confess that I cannot understand it, unless 
we have here also some supposed racial characteristic, let 
us say greatly exaggerated. To explain myself I should 
put it that the non-Aryan aborigines were a small people 
of great agility and nimbleness, and that their Aryan 
conquerors moved more slowly and deliberately, whence 
the former, of springier movements, might come to nick- 
name the latter the flat-feet. It is even conceivable that 
there was some amount of foundation for it in fact. If I 
might speak from my own experience, I might mention a 
difficulty I have often had with shoes of English make, 
namely, that I have always found them, unless made 
to my measure, apt to have their instep too low for me. 
It has never occurred to me to buy ready-made shoes in 
France or Germany, but I know a lady as Welsh as 
myself who has often bought shoes in France, and her 
experience is, that it is much easier for her to get shoes 
there to fit her than in England, and for the very reason 
which I have already suggested, namely, that the instep in 
English shoes is lower than in French ones. These two 
instances do not warrant an induction that the Celts are 
higher in the instep than Teutons, and that they have 
inherited that characteristic from the non-Aryan element 
in their ancestry ; but they will do to suggest a question, 
and that is all I want : Are the descendants of the 
non-Aryan aborigines of these islands proportionately 
higher in the instep than those of more purely Aryan 
descent ? 

There is one other question which I should like to ask 
before leaving the qualtagh, namely, as to the rela- 
tion of the custom of New Year's gifts to the belief 


82 Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 

in the qualtagh. I have heard it related in the Isle of 
Man that women have been known to keep indoors on 
New Year's Day until the qualtagh comes, which some- 
times means their being prisoners for the greater part of 
the day, in order to avoid the risk of first meeting one who 
is not of the right sex and complexion. On the other 
hand, when the qualtagh is of the right description, con- 
siderable fuss is made of him ; to say the least, he has to 
accept food and drink, possibly more permanent gifts. 
Thus a tall, black-haired native of Kirk Michael described 
to me how he chanced on New Year's Day years ago 
to turn into a lonely cottage in order to light his pipe, and 
how he found he was the qualtagh : he had to sit down to 
have food, and when he went away it was with a present 
and the blessings of the family. Now New Year's Day is 
the time for gifts in Wales, as shown by the name for 
them, calennig, which is derived from calan, the Welsh 
form of the Latin calender, New Year's Day being in Welsh 
Y Calan, ' the Calends'. The same is the day for gifts 
in Scotland and in Ireland, except in so far as Christmas- 
boxes have been making inroads from England ; I need 
not add that the Jour de I'An is the day for gifts also in 
France. My question then is this : Is there any connec- 
tion of origin between the institution of New Year's Day 
gifts and the belief in a qualtagh ? 

Now that it has been indicated what sort of a qualtagh 
it is unlucky to have, I may as well proceed to mention 
the other things which I have heard treated as unlucky in 
the Island. Some of them scarcely require to be noticed, 
as there is nothing specially Manx about them, such as 
the belief that it is unlucky to have the first glimpse of the 
new moon through glass. That is a superstition which is, 
I believe, widely spread, and, among other countries, it is 
quite familiar in Wales. It is also believed in Man, as it 
used to be in Wales and Ireland, that it is unlucky to dis- 
turb antiquities, especially old burial-places and old churches. 

Manx Folk- core and Superstitions. 83 

This superstition is unfortunately fast passing away in 
all three countries, but you still hear of it, especially in 
the Isle of Man, after some mischief has been done. Thus 
a good Manx scholar told me how a relative of his in the 
Ronnag, a small valley near South Barrule, had carted the 
earth from an old burial-ground on his farm and used it as 
manure for his fields, and how his beasts died afterwards. 
The narrator said he did not know whether there was any 
truth in it, but everybody believed that it was the reason 
why the cattle died ; and so did the farmer himself at 
last : so he desisted from completing his disturbance of 
the old site. It is possibly for a similar reason that a 
house in ruins is seldom pulled down and the materials 
used for other buildings : where that has been done mis- 
fortunes have ensued : at any rate, I have heard it said 
more than once. I ought to have stated that the non- 
disturbance of antiquities in the Island is quite consistent 
with their being now and then shamefully neglected as 
elsewhere: this is now met by an excellent statute recently 
enacted by the House of Keys for the preservation of the 
public monuments in the Island. 

Of the other and more purely Manx superstitions I may 
mention one which obtains among the Peel fishermen of 
the present day : no boat is willing to be third in the 
order of sailing out from Peel harbour to the fisheries. So 
it sometimes happens that after two boats have departed, 
the others remain watching each other for days, each 
hoping that somebody else may be reckless enough to 
break through the invisible barrier of ' bad luck'. I have 
often asked for an explanation of this superstition, but the 
only intelligible answer I have had was that it has been 
observed that the third boat has done badly several years in 
succession ; but I am unable to ascertain how far that repre- 
sents a fact. Another of the unlucky things is to have 
a white stone in the boat, even in the ballast, and for that 
I never could get any explanation at all ; but there is no 
doubt as to the fact of this superstition, and I may illus- 

G 2 

84 Manx Folk-lore and Supei^stitions. 

trate it from the case of a clergyman's son on the west 
side, who took it into his head to go out with some 
fishermen several days in succession. They chanced to be 
unsuccessful each time, and they gave their Jonah the 
nickname of Clagli Vane or ' White Stone'. Here I may 
mention a fact which I do not know where else to put, 
namely, that a fisherman on his way in the morning to the 
fishing, and chancing to pass by the cottage of another 
fisherman who is not on friendly terms with him, will 
pluck a straw from the thatch of the latter's dwelling. 
Thereby he is supposed to rob him of luck in the fishing 
for that day. One would expect to learn that the straw 
from the thatch served as the subject of an incantation 
directed against the owner of the thatch, but I have never 
heard anything suggested to that effect : so I conclude 
that the plucking of the straw is only a partial survival of 
what was once a complete ritual for bewitching one's 

Owing to my ignorance as to the superstitions of other 
fishermen than those of the Isle of Man, I will not attempt 
to classify the remaining instances to be mentioned, such 
as the unluckiness of mentioning a horse or a mouse on 
board a fishing-boat : I seem, however, to have heard of 
similar taboos among Scotch fishermen. Novices in the 
Manx fisheries have to learn not to point to anything with 
one finger : they have to point with the whole hand or not 
at all. Whether the Manx are alone in thinking it un- 
lucky to lend salt from one boat to another when they are 
engaged in the fishing, I know not : such lending would 
probably be inconvenient, but why it should be unlucky,. 
as they believe it to be, does not appear. The first of May 
is a day on which it is unlucky to lend anything, and 
especially to give anyone fire. This looks as if it pointed 
back to some Druidic custom of lighting all fires at that 
time from a sacred hearth, but, so far as is known, this- 
only took place at the beginning of the other half-year 

Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 85 

namely, Allhallows, called in Manx Laa 'II mooar ny 
Saintsh, ' the Day of the great Feast of the Saints'. 

Lastly, I may mention that it is unlucky to say that 
you are very well : at any rate, I infer that it is regarded 
so, as you will never get a Manxman to say that he is feer 
vicy 'very well'. He usually admits that he is 'middling'; 
and if by any chance he risks a stronger adjective, he 
hastens to qualify it by adding ' now' or ' just now', with 
an emphasis indicative of his anxiety not to say too much. 
His habits of speech point back to a time when the Manx 
mind was dominated by the fear of awaking malignant 
influences in the spirit-world around him. This has 
had the effect of giving the Manx peasant's character 
a tinge of reserve and suspicion, which makes it difficult to 
gain his confidence : his acquaintance has, therefore, to be 
cultivated for some time before you can say that you 
know the workings of his heart. The pagan belief in 
a Nemesis has doubtless passed away, but not without 
materially affecting the Manx idea of a personal devil. 
Ever since the first allusion made in my presence by 
Manxmen to the devil, I have been more and more deeply 
impressed that the Manx devil is a much more formidable 
being than Englishmen or Welshmen picture him. He is 
a graver and, if I may say so, a more respectable being, 
allowing no liberties to be taken with his name, so you had 
better not call him a Devil, the Evil One, or like names, for 
his proper designation is Noid ny Hanmey, ' the Enemy of 
the Soul', and in ordinary Anglo-Manx conversation he 
is commonly called ' the Enemy of Souls'. The Manx 
are, as a rule, a sober people, and highly religious ; as 
regards their theological views, they are mostly members 
of the Church of England or Wesleyan Methodists, or else 
both, which is by no means unusual. Religious phrases 
are not rare in their ordinary conversation ; in fact, they 
struck me as being of more frequent occurrence than in 
Wales, even the Wales of my boyhood ; and here and 

86 Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 

there this fondness for religious phraseology has left its 
traces on the native vocabulary. Take, for example, the 
word for ' anybody, a person, or human being', which 
Cregeen ^nxxV^'s, py agJi or p'agk : he rightly regards it as the 
colloquial pronunciation of peccagh, ' a sinner'. So, when 
one knocks at a Manx door and calls out. Vet fagJi st/ne ? 
he strictly speaking asks, ' Is there any sinner indoors ?' 
The question has, however, been explained to me, with 
unconscious irony, as properly meaning ' Is there any 
Christian indoors?' and care is now taken in reading to pro- 
nounce the consonants of the word peccagJi, ' sinner', so as 
to distinguish it from the word for ' anybody' : but the 
identity of origin is unmistakable. 

Lastly, the fact that a curse is a species of prayer, to 
wit, a prayer for evil to follow, is well exemplified in 
Manx by the same words givee^ and gweeagJiyii meaning 
both kinds of prayer. Thus I found myself stumbling 
several times, in reading through the Psalms in Manx, from 
not bearing in mind the sinister meaning of these words ; 
for example, in Ps. xiv, 6, where we have Ta 'n becal oc 
lane dy gJiweeaghyn as dy herriuid, which I mechanically 
construed to mean "Their mouth is full of praying and 
bitterness", instead of " cursing and bitterness"; and so in 
other cases, such as Ps. x, 7, and cix, 27. 

It occurred to me on various occasions to make inquiries 
as to the attitude of religious Manxmen towards witch- 
craft and the charmer's vocation. Nobody, so far as 
I know, accuses them of favouring witchcraft in any way 
whatsoever ; but I have heard it distinctly stated that the 
most religious men are they who have most confidence in 
charmers and their charms ; and a lay preacher whom 
I know has been mentioned to me as now and then doing 
a little charming in cases of danger or pressing need. On 
the whole, I think the charge against religious people of 

^ Old-fashioned grammarians and dictionary makers are always 
delighted to handle Mrs. Partington's broom : so Kelly thinks he has 
done a fine thing by printing ^//(jv, ' prayer', cLnd^wee, ' cursing'. 

Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 2>j 

consulting charmers is exaggerated ; but I believe that 
recourse to the charmer is more usual and more openly- 
had than, for example, in Wales, where those who consult 
a dyn Jiyspys or ' wise man' have to do it secretly, and at 
the risk of being expelled by their co-religionists from the 
Seiet or ' Society'. There is somewhat in the atmosphere 
of Man to remind one rather of the Wales of a past 
generation, the'Wales of the Rev. Edmund Jones, author of 
a Relation of Apparitions of Spirits ift the Coimty of Mon- 
mouth and the Principality of Wales (Newport, 1813), 
a book which its author tells us was " designed to confute 
and to prevent the infidelity of denying the being and 
apparition of spirits, which tends to irreligion and atheism". 
That little volume not only deserves to be known to the 
Psychical Society, but it might be consulted with a certain 
amount of advantage by folk-lorists. 

The Manx peasantry are perhaps the most independent 
and prosperous in the British Isles ; but their position 
geographically and politically has been favourable to the 
continuance of ideas not quite up to the level of the latest 
papers on Darwinism and Evolution read at our Church 
Congresses in this country. This you may say is here wide of 
the mark ; but, after giving you in my first paper specimens 
of rather ancient superstitions as recently known in the 
Island, it is but right that you should have an idea of the 
surroundings in which they have lingered into modern 
times. Perhaps nothing will better serve to bring this 
home to your minds than the fact, for which there is 
abundant evidence, that old people still living remember 
men and women clad in white sheets doing penance pub- 
licly in the churches of Man. Some of the penitents have 
only been dead some six or seven years, nay, it is possible, 
for anything I know, that one or two may be still alive. 
This seems to us in this country to belong, so to say, 
to ancient history, and it transports us to a state of things 
which we find it hard to realise. The lapse of years has 
brought about profounder changes in our greater Isle of 

88 Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 

Britain than in the smaller Isle of Man ; and we, failing 
ourselves to escape the pervading influences of those 
profounder changes, become an instance of the compre- 
hensive truth of the words, 

Tempora mutantur nos et mutamur in illis. 

J. Rhys. 


Dr. Karl Blind : Prof. Rhys is right in stating that the ash- 
tree may be referred to the great ash-tree of Scandinavian 
mythology ; that it symbolizes the Universe, as described in 
Eddaic days. The well, whose water is exceedingly pure, re- 
minds us of the fountains that lie at the root of the Scandinavian 
ash-tree, and in the Edda it is said that it is as pure and white 
as the shell of an egg. 

If I have rightly understood Prof. Rhys, a sacred thorn-bush is 
also mentioned. That would remind us of the worship of the 
thorn-bush in Teutonic literature. The thorn-bush is very much 
used among the Teutons for crematory purposes. No one was 
allowed to clip or go near them. Brand, in his Popular Antiquities, 
mentions such a thorn-bush in Scotland. 

The well-worship was a familiar worship of our Scandinavian 
ancestors. It is easily understood why it should prevail very 
much in the Isle of Man. 

As to the red-haired man : this refers to the Scandinavian 
conquerors of the older people of Iberian descent in the Isle of 
Man. These aborigines had still a fear of the red-haired man 
who had conquered them. The Isle of Man is full of names 
corresponding to Scandinavian. The people afterwards became 
Celticised in speech, but very often examples occur with the 
Germanic type. 

Prof. Rhys says that the superstition about red-haired men may 
be found further back than the Scandinavian conquest of the 
Island. I have no doubt whatever that in very ancient times there 
has been wave after wave of Teutonic migration and emigration 
along the shores of Scotland. There are no doubt traces in 

Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 89 

poems that refer to older conquests of Man. The first movement 
was ahvays towards Ireland and then went back to Scotland. In the 
Isle of Man a great deal is spoken of the " little people", and the 
little people (as I hear from my daughter and son-in-law, who have 
visited the Island) are still worshipped there. Many inhabitants 
go to bed on stormy days to allow the little people to have refuge 
comfortably. The little people mean doubtless the Iberian ab- 

As to the instep, I can speak from personal experience. Al- 
most every German finds that an English shoemaker makes his 
boots not high enough in the instep. The northern Germans (I 
am from the south) have perhaps slightly flatter feet than the 
southern Germans. 

With regard to the prohibition to carry manure from church- 
yards, a sanitary idea lingers under it, though doubtless connected 
with religious ideas as in other cases. In cat-lore, e.g.^ there is a great 
deal of scientific knowledge with regard to change of temperature, 
people having closely observed the manners of cats under different 
atmospheric conditions, and being able to tell, therefore, whether 
storm is brewing or fine weather coming on. In certain cases of 
diseases, such as small-pox for instance, the carrying of manure 
would certainly become fatal to beast or man. 

Horse, mouse, etc., on board ship are held to be fatal, and they 
must be mentioned under other names. Shetland fishermen will 
not mention a church or a clergyman (the latter being especially 
unlucky) on board ship. They use quite other names on board. 

A Manx man will not speak of himself as being very well. That 
superstition is all over the world. The Germans have the expres- 
sion beschreien. You must not mention a thing too favourably ; you 
are punished for too great exuberance of joy. 

It is a mistake to think the Scandinavians did not bring any of 
their women with them. They are often mentioned in the sagas. 

Mr. GoMME : With reference to well-superstitions, a very in- 
teresting suggestion made by Prof. Rhys is that rags are not offer- 
ings, but are put there for the cure of diseases. There is some 
evidence against that, from the fact that in the case of some wells, 
especially in Scotland at one time, the whole garment was put 
down as an offering. Gradually these offerings of clothes became 

90 Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 

less and less till they came down to rags. Also in other parts, the 
geographical distribution of rag-offerings coincides with the ex- 
istence of monoliths and dolmens. Though the Manx evidence 
goes against the more general conclusion, it is important to 
emphasise it. The absence of the tree in connection with well- 
worship is a very interesting subject. Where we find in England 
no tree, the rag-well gives way to the pin-well, and as the trees are 
worn away the pin, as another part of dress, is substituted. 

As to the first-foot on New Year's Day, Prof. Rhys seemed to 
distinguish between the three different objects which were unlucky 
— a woman, red-haired, and splay-footed people. Red hair and 
splay-foot might be matters of race. Why not go a little bit 
further, and say the case of the woman is also a matter of race ? 
Mr. Stuart-Glennie's matriarchy theory is based on the fact of 
many tribes marrying women of different races. Two elements 
of the first-foot superstition may be put down as racial, why not 
the third ? 

As to lighting of fire from one central fire, there is the belief 
that if no fire were found some great misfortune would happen. 
Fire-worship, Canon Taylor asserts, is not Aryan at all, but 
Iberian. As to fires being lighted from a common centre, I 
should like to see the Society take up the subject as one to in- 
vestigate. It is found in all parts where Celtic holding has been 
most lasting. Fires of the household are lighted from that heltan 
fire on a particular day. There is a superstition against not light- 
ing from that particular fire. It is evident that Prof. Rhys has 
observed with very great attention. I should like to put this 
question before him. 

Mr. NuTT : As to the qualtagh, I have been thrown into an 
ocean of perplexity, first by Prof. Rhys and secondly by Mr. 
Gomme. It would seem from Prof. Rhys that the unlucky per- 
son is a remnant of the conquering race ; a woman is the unlucky 
person according to Mr. Gomme ; but if red-haired and splay- 
footed people, the qualtaghs were not likely to be women of the 
aboriginal race, i.e., assuming this race to have been a dark, 
small, high-instepped one. Assuming there is anything at all in 
the historical and ethnological explanation, why should unlucki- 
ness attach itself both to the conquering race and to the woman, 

Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions. 9 1 

who must be representative /ar excellence of the conquered race ? 
A grave doubt is suggested whether the historical explanation is 
really the correct one. If it is, I then would emphasise this point. 
The whole of the lower beliefs and practices of this mixed race 
is shown to come from the prehistoric lower races. It is a 
conclusion with much to recommend it on a priori grounds, but 
we must look very cautiously at it ; and when we find such 
objections as I have urged we must try and see if there are not 
other explanations. 

Editorial. — We have received some information respecting the 
marks of the " qualtagh", or " first-foot", in other parts of Britain. 
We propose to print this in the next number, and we ask readers 
to send on, before the ist of May, any information on the subject, 
derived either from personal knowledge or from books, they may 
have. Both the positive and negative signs of the qualtagh 
should be noted. When the information is from personal know- 
ledge, exact localities and dates should be specified ; when from 
books, not only should the bibliographical indications be full and 
accurate, but all the points mentioned by the writer should be 
given so as to obviate the need for further reference. Letters 
should be addressed to Mr. J. Jacobs, 4, Hazelmere Road, Kilburn, 
London, N.W., and should be marked " First-foot" in the left-hand 


[collected in nyassaland.] 

Story of the Man who lived by Overreaching 


ONCE upon a time there was a great famine, and a 
certain man went to the forest, and found some figs, 
which he plucked and put into his bag. Having secured 
the figs he went on his way, and in his journey he came 
upon a man who was eating grass. 

He said to him, "Why do you eat grass?" 

The other replied, saying, " Because there is no food ; 
thou thyself seest that this is a time of hunger." 

Then the deceiver said, " Here are some figs ; eat," and 
the other replied thanking him. 

As the man who was eating the grass finished eating the 
figs, the deceiver turned and said, " Give me my figs." 

To this the man replied, " Why did you give me your 
figs ? Did I ask them of you ?" 

Then the two men disputed, the one saying that no man 
who is hungry would refuse to eat when food is offered to 
him, and the other only saying, " Give me my figs." After 
they had disputed a long time the man who had eaten the 
figs gave the other his fishing-net. So the dispute ended, 
and the man went on his way carrying the fishing-net. 

It came to pass that while continuing his journey he 
came upon certain people who were trying to catch fish 
with their hands. Coming up to them he said, " Why are 
ye trying to catch fish with your hands ?" 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 93 

They replied, " We have no net, and the fish are defeat- 
ing us." 

The deceiver said, "Just try this net of mine." 

They tried the net and caught a great many fishes. 

Then the deceiver turned round and said, " Give me my 
net which I took from the man who was eating grass ; the 
same who ate my figs. Give me my net ; give me my net." 

They gave him many fish, and he went on his way. 

At length he came to a village, and saw some people 
who had nothing to serve as relish with their porridge, for 
they were dipping their porridge on the ulcers on their 

The man said, " Why are ye doing thus ?" 

They replied, " Because we have no relish." 

He said, " Here are some fish for you." 

They thanked him, and took them, not knowing that 
he would turn again and ask for them. So, when they 
had eaten the fish he said, " Give me my fish ; the fish 
which I took from the people who used my net ; the net 
which I took from the man who ate my figs, even he who 
was eating grass. Give me my fish ; give me my fish." 

They brought some millet and gave to him, and he went 
on his way. 

While he continued his journey he came upon some 
guinea-fowls eating white ants, and he said to them, " Why 
are you eating white ants ?" 

The guinea-fowls replied, saying, " They are our food." 

The deceiver said, " Here is proper food." 

The guinea-fowls said, " Give us that we may eat." 

He poured it out, and they consumed it all. 

When he saw that they had eaten the millet, he said, 
" Give me my millet ; the millet which I took from the 
people who were dipping their porridge on their ulcers ; 
the people who ate my fish ; the fish which I took from 
the people who appropriated my net ; the net which I took 
from the man who ate my figs, even he who was eating 
grass. Give me my millet ; give me my millet." 

94 Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

The guinea-fowls took their wing- feathers and gave to 
him, and he went on his way. 

As he journeyed further he came upon people who were 
decorated with the leaves of the maize-plant. 

They said to him, " Give us feathers, so that we may 
decorate ourselves." 

He gave them feathers, and they decorated themselves. 

When he saw that they had finished decorating them- 
selves, he said, " Give me my feathers ; the feathers which 
I took from the guinea-fowls which ate my millet ; the 
millet that I took from the people who dipped their por- 
ridge on their ulcers ; the people who ate my fish ; the fish 
which I took from the men who used my net ; the net that 
1 took from the man who ate my figs, even he who was 
eating grass." 

They gave him a goat, which he secured, and went on 
his way. 

He then came upon a village, and he said, " I wish to 
sleep here." The people agreed, and pointed him to a hut. 
He inquired, saying, " Where shall my goat sleep ?" 

The people said, " There is the goat-fold, with the other 

The man seemed perplexed, and then said, "It would be 
well that my goat should remain in the cattle-fold." 

They agreed, and he secured his goat in the cattle-fold. 

The deceiver went to the cattle-fold during night and 
took his goat, and thrust a stick into it, and the goat 

And as morning dawned, all the people arose, and saw 
that the goat was dead. 

The deceiver said, " Give me my goat ; it has been killed 
by your cattle." 

The people took a bullock and gave him, and he went 
away with it. 

After he had journeyed to a distant part he cut off the 
beast's tail, and hid the carcase in the wood. He then 
planted the tail in the ground, and, holding on to the end, 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 95 

he cried with a great cry, " Come ye to my help. My 
bullock has entered the ground." 

All the people gathered together, and they pulled upon 
the tail, and it broke. 

The deceiver then said, " Ye have pulled off my bullock's 
tail. Make ye haste and bring your hoes, and dig down 
and recover my bullock." 

They did so, and digged down, but came not upon the 

The deceiver then said, " Just so ! Give me my bullock, 
because ye have pulled off its tail," 

They gave him forty cattle. 

The story is ended. 

The Story of a Tshewa Hunter. 

A certain Tshewa had a musical bow. It came to pass 
on a certain day that he went to hunt the reed-buck. He 
came upon reed-buck and struck at one with his arrow. 
He went home with it. 

He then roasted it and ate it, and was filled. 

Another day he went to hunt on the mountain, and 
while hunting he came upon a lioness with a young cub 
in a cavern on the mountain. He went and called the 
people, saying, " Let us go, ye people, that ye may seize it." 

They went and got their shields and spears, but some 
went and took guns. Then they went all of them to the 
mountain to take the cub. 

They arrived at the mountain, and said, " Show us where 
thou sawest the lioness and cub." 

He replied, " Climb ye also the mountain, and ye will 
see the great cave where they are." 

They climbed the mountain and saw a very large cavern, 
whereupon they all made a great noise, firing guns and 
beating shields, at which the lioness was affrighted and 
fled away. 

They then took the cub and carried it home with them, 

96 Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

at the same time jeering at their friend, and saying, " Thou, 
master, who sawest the Honess with a young cub on the 
mountain, wast afraid to seize it, and came and called us. 
We went to the hill and seized the cub of the lioness. 
Bring out meat that we may eat plentifully over this 
lioness' cub." 

So he gave them forty hoes, and they were satisfied ; but 
they knew that he wished to get the lioness' cub so that he 
might have abundance of meat to eat. 

The young lion ate heartily, and soon grew to a great 

It came to pass on a certain day that he went with his 
lion to hunt buffalo. He went to the swamps, and came 
upon a large herd of buffalo. 

He said to the lion, " My lion, how is it that thou dost 
not seize the buffalo? If thou dost not seize them I will 
kill thee." 

So the lion roared, and the buffalo were affrighted, and 
he seized three. The others fled for fear and escaped. 

He then called the lion and said, " Stay here, and I will 
go and call the people." So he went to call the people. 

And it came to pass, while he was going to call the 
people, some people came up behind him and said, " See, 
here is a lion that has killed three buffalo." The lion 

Then they said, " Let us carry away the meat." The 
lion roared greatly when he saw that they were to carry off 
the buffalo meat, and he seized and killed a great many of 

Then the man came up, and the people whom he had 
called, and when they saw the people lying dead around, 
they said, " This Hon of yours will not cease till he has 
killed all the people." 

The owner of the lion replied, " Yes, indeed, but I will 
slay the Hon lest he kill the people and bring law-suits 
upon me." 

So he went and flayed the buffalo, and took the liver of 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 97 

one and cut it in two, and threw the two pieces, one by one, 
to the h'on, which took them at once and ate them. 

And it came to pass, when they were returning home, the 
master of the Hon said to the people, " Pass ye on leading 
the way, and the lion will follow behind. As for me I will 
follow after the lion and will slay it, because it killed the 
people. I was saying to myself that it would hunt buffalo 
for me." 

So they went, and the lion, not being on the alert as they 
journeyed, was pierced with an arrow by its owner. It 
turned round, and when it saw who had pierced it, it made 
bounds and grappled with its master, but was killed eventu- 
ally by a blow from an axe. It fell down and died. 

Its master skinned it, and carried the skin home with 

The people said, " So it is with those who are made full. 
Even wild beasts may change again. Those who are made 
full may bite those who fill them." All said, " It is bad, 
very bad, to bring up wild beasts." 

They ate their meat. 

It is finished. 

The Story of a Man who was a Deceiver. 

A man went to a certain village and met with some 
girls, and inquired of them, saying, "Where are you going?" 

The girls replied and said, " We are going to a marriage. 
Do you wish to accompany us ?" 

The man agreed to go with them, and they all went on 

So when they came to the village whither they were 
going, they all entered the cattle-fold and engaged in a 
dance, and at the close of the day they separated to their 
several sleeping-huts. 

And it came to pass next morning that they all went 
to the reeds and remained there. The heads of the village 
prepared for the marriage^feast by killing several beasts. 


98 Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

The girls were then called back, and again engaged in 
dancing until the meat had been divided. 

When each party had received their share of the meat, it 
was carried away to the hut of the girls. Then the girls 
ordered the man who had come with them to go and cook 
their share. He did so, cooking it in two pots, outside the 
hut. Meantime all the young women and girls were in 
the hut. 

Then the man feigned illness, and lay down. One of the 
girls went out, and seeing him lying down, inquired, "What 
is it ?" 

He replied, saying, " My head is very painful." 

But he did this merely feigning sickness ; he told lies. 

The girl entered the hut where the others were, and the 
man got up and uncovered the pots in which the meat was 
being cooked, and ate it all, until only the bones remained 
uneaten. Then he lay down again. 

Afterwards three of the girls went out and asked him 
saying, "Is the meat now prepared?" To this he replied, 
" I do not know ; I have not seen it," 

The girls then went and uncovered the pots which con- 
tained the meat, and behold ! there were only bones to be 
seen. They all wondered greatly, and cried out, " The 
meat is all eaten — there remain only the bones." 

Thereupon they inquired of the man, " Where is the 
meat ?" 

He replied, " I do not know. I was lying down, and I 
fell asleep." 

The girls went and told the others who were in the hut, 
saying, " Come out, the meat is all eaten." 

They came out, and bade good-bye to the men and 
women and the young men of the village. They said, 
** Remain well. They have eaten all our meat." 

The people wondered greatly, and replied, " Good-bye : 
go well. Salute your people at home." 

So the girls went out of the village, and went on their 
way home, singing as they went. The man also went with 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 99 

They went on and crossed a river. The man there 
turned aside, saying, " I am going this way. Go ye well." 

While they were departing from him he stood and called 
to them, saying, " Hear ye !" 

The girls said, "Let us listen ; the man is calling after 

The man said, " I ate your meat." 

The girls replied, " Oh, dear ! we have been keeping 
company with a bad man — a very bad man ; he ate all our 

So they went home and saluted their people. 

The end. 

The Story of the Coney. 

It came to pass on a certain day that the coney was 
•living in the bush, and was eating grass. He got up and 
went and stayed in a certain village. 

On a certain day he said, " I am desirous of taking a 
girl to wife." 

The people agreed, saying, " Take her ; but you must first 
go and show your skill in hunting game." 

So the coney agreed, saying, " It is meet that I should 
first go and hunt game before I take the girl." 

He went off to hunt game, and at length arrived in the 
forest. There he saw a garden of millet. He went into 
the garden and ate all the millet. He was filled, and went 
to the river and drank water. Then he went away home 
and saw a person. 

He said to this person, " Go to your garden yonder ; I 
came upon dogs eating your millet." The coney arrived at 
the village. 

The people said to him, " How are you so full ?" 

The coney said, " I am full with honey." 

But the people said, " Let us go and see our garden of 
millet." They also said, " You must go with us to see it 

H 2 

1 oo Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

The coney answered and said, " Nay, I am not desirous 
of going with you." 

But the people said, " You must go and exercise your 
skill on behalf of your mother-in-law." 

The coney replied, " I am very tired." 

The people said, " Nonsense ! Let us go and watch with 
your mother-in-law." So he went with them. 

They went on and came to the garden, and saw that 
the footprints were like those of the coney. They said, 
" Who was treading here? It was thou, coney." 

The coney denied, saying, " It was not I." 

The people said, " Why do you deny it, seeing that the 
footprints are the same as your own ?" 

The coney answered, " I came upon dogs eating the 
millet, and I drove them out." 

Then there started forth one of the girls and affirmed, 
saying, "It was thyself who ate our mother's millet. Why 
do you deny it ? At home we asked thee, saying, ' How 
art thou so full, coney ? ' But thou denied, saying, ' I am 
full with honey.' Thou merely deniest it, but thou didst 
eat our millet." 

All the people said, " Bad son-in-law, it is so ; but go 
thou and drive out the wild cats that are living in our tree 
yonder, where we wish to eat fruit." 

So the coney went away, saying, " As for me, when I 
arrive at the tree, how shall I drive out the wild cats, for 
they are very fierce ? " So he went on, weeping. 

At length he arrived at the tree, and considered how he 
might catch the young wild cats. 

He shouted to the young cats, " Hear, ye young cats ! 
Here is honey ; send out your father and mother that they 
may eat." Thus did the coney, thinking that it was a kind 
of poison which, if they ate it, would kill them. 

So the old cats with their young ones came out of the 
tree. They said, " Here is the honey which the coney has 
given us." So they ate of the tree (poison), but they came 
not upon the fruit. 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. i o i 

They said, " Give us the honey that we may eat it." It 
was given, and they ate it, and as they ate they found it 
contained bitter water. 

They asked, " What kind of food is this ? It is like salt." 

They ate, and all of them died. 

When the coney came upon them he found they were all 
dead. He exclaimed, " Just so ! Now I have delivered 
myself, because my mother-in-law sent me to drive out the 
wild cats." 

He then went to his mother-in-law and said, " I have 
killed the wild cats. Let us go and see them." 

So they all went and came to the place, and found them 
even dead. The coney then said, " Give me now my wife, 
seeing that I am a man of power, having killed the wild 

They said, " Not so ; thou art a bad man, because thou 
didst eat all our millet." 

So they drove him away. 

The coney went away, nevertheless his heart was full of 
anger because they had refused him his wife. He was also 
full of sorrow, and he took a rope of bark and bound 
(hanged) himself so that he died. 

The Story of the Man and the Reed-Buck. 

It came to pass, a man was cultivating his garden. He 
sowed millet, which sprang up and grew well, and was ripe. 
Then came the time for reaping, and he went away to reap 
the millet. 

It came to pass the next morning that he found his 
garden destroyed, for one-half of it was reaped. 

Then said the owner of the garden, "Who has reaped 
one-half of my garden ? I will go and inquire at my 

He came home and inquired, but all there denied having 
done so. 

I02 Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

Then he began to "smell out" a certain person, and said, 
" It was thou who reaped my garden." 

But this man drank uniuteyu and vomited, so his accuser 
paid him in cattle to the number of five. 

So the morning after he went to his garden and found it 
reaped still more. He "smelt out" another person, and he 
also drank tunuteyu, and vomited likewise. He also was 
paid five cattle. 

Again he went out to his garden and found it still more 
reaped. So he " smelt out" all the people, but [they having 
drunk iivmteyu and vomited] he took all the goods he 
possessed and paid them. There remained only his child- 
ren and his wives, these only — his cattle and his goats, and 
all his goods, he had parted with in paying the people. 

So he said, " I will not do this. I will lie in my garden 
and catch the thief" 

It came to pass, indeed, that, as he watched, the reed- 
buck came and danced in the middle of the garden, saying, 
" The people hereabouts reap with a knife, but, as for us, 
we reap with the mouth — we reap with the mouth, picking, 

So the man seized the reed-buck, and said, " So, then, 
thou hast done away with all my goods. Why so ? Thou 
art the thief who hast reaped my garden." 

And the reed-buck answered, saying, " Pardon me, father, 
and I, even I, will repay you all your goods." 

So the man listened, and said, " Well, let us go." 

He took a bark-rope, and said, " I will bind thee." 

The reed-buck said, " Do not bind me with a bark-rope, 
but bind me with a rope of grass instead. If you bind me 
with a bark-rope I will break it." 

So the man was a fool, and listened to the reed-buck. 
He took grass and made a rope, and bound the reed-buck, 
and went on his way with it. 

And it came to pass that they came to a deep ravine, 
and the reed-buck stood and considered, and then, by a 
bound, broke the grass rope, clearing the ravine, and land- 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 103 

ing on the other side. He laughed greatly at the owner of 
the garden, saying, " I have overreached you, by your 
taking grass to bind me." 

The reed-buck passed on, laughing at the man. 

The Story of the Traveller. 

He went about among the villages of the people. He 
went to one village, and lighted upon the men in the cattle- 
fold. He entered the fold, and sat down. 

The men said to him, " We see thee." He replied, say- 
ing, " Yes." 

They asked him, saying, "Where do you come from ?" 
to which he answered, " I merely wander about, for no 

So he saluted them, bidding them adieu, and went out 
into the forest. He was afraid of men, and went about in 
the woods where there were no villages. 

In the morning he went on, and came upon some men 
hoeing their gardens. They had beer with them, and, 
besides the men in the gardens, there were youths, girls, 
and young boys. 

He sat down. 

They saluted him, saying, " We see thee," to which salu- 
tation he responded. 

Then he took a hoe, and began to hoe in the garden. 
But it so happened that the hoe-handle was broken. 

He exclaimed, " Oh, dear ! the handle of the hoe is 

But so did he act on purpose, for he was coveting the 

Then he spoke to the owners of the hoe, saying, " The 
handle of the hoe is broken; give me an axe, and I will go 
into the wood and form another handle." 

They gave him an axe, and he took it, together with the 
hoe, and went away to cut a stick and to make a handle. 
He went on, cutting as he went, the owners not knowing 

1 04 Folk-lo7'e Tales of Central Africa. 

that he was going away, but thinking that, as they heard 
the sound of hewing trees, he was indeed working. 

He continued doing so, cutting sticks as he went ; he 
went off with the hoe and the axe. 

At length the people heard no more the sound of cutting 
trees, for he had gone far into the forest, and had run away 
with the hoe. 

They were surprised when they found that he had gone 
out of sight, like the setting sun. 

Then the people said to each other, " This man has de- 
ceived us." 

They quarrelled among themselves thereupon, but the 
man he continued to go beyond them. 

As he went on, he lighted upon a village in the forest, 
where there resided an old woman and her children, to- 
gether with the cattle, sheep, and goats, which the children 

So he said, " Grandmother, I wish to stay with thee 

The old woman agreed, as also did her children. 

So he remained in that place for the space of five days. 

One day he said to the old woman, " Let us play." 

The old woman replied, " I will play with thee." 

So he said, " Take water, and bring it with a very big 
pot, and I will show thee." 

The old woman brought water and a big pot. 

He got firewood and made a large fire, and put the pot 
on the hearth, and poured the water into it. 

When the water was warm, he said, " Now I will go 
into the water; and when I say, 'Grandmother, pull me 
out,' you must pull me out at once. Then you will go into 
the pot, and when you say, 'My child, pull me out!' I will 
pull thee out at once." 

So did he, day after day, and the grandmother did so 

But it happened on a certain day that he said, " I will 
kill this old woman." 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 1 05 

So when the cattle, sheep, and goats had gone out to 
pasture, he made water warm in the pot. He himself 
began the play by going into the water. 

He said, "Grandmother, pull me out!" 

She pulled him out. 

Then the old woman entered the water. 

She cried, " My child, pull me out!" 

But the traveller waited, and the water became so hot 
as to burn. The old woman continued to cry, "My child, 
pull me out." 

He said, " Nay, grandmother ; it is broth." 

She said, " Oh, dear ! you might pull me out." 

He again said, " It is broth; I do not want to pull you 

So he did, and killed the grandmother. 

Then he took the flesh and cooked porridge. He 
cooked much porridge, and took it upon his head to the 

The children returned, and he brought them the flesh 
and porridge. They ate of it. 

There was there a young child, who spoke out, saying, 
" I have eaten the big toe of our mother." 

But the elder children rebuked him, saying, " It is not 
that of our mother. Do you want another [toe] ?" 

Thereupon the young child affirmed strongly, saying, 
" Indeed, it is." 

They ate and finished the food. 

The young child re-affirmed, " I have eaten the big toe 
of our mother." 

Now the traveller rose up, and said, " My child, I am 
going into the forest, but I will return again." 

When he had gone some distance, he turned round, and 
said, " I have killed your grandmother ; ye have eaten 
her flesh." 

Then the young boy said, " Did I not tell you, but ye 
listened not, but rebuked me for saying it ?" 

They all cried, and lamented sorely. 

io6 Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

It is so when you bring in a man who is not known, but 
who, in his wandering about, only looks to steal the things 
of the people. 

The Story of Tangalemilingo. 

There went out some boys to hunt game. 

It came to pass when they reached the forest, that they 
came upon game in abundance. They hunted and killed 
much game, including coneys, reed-buck, guinea-fowl 
partridge, and bush-buck. 

And they said, " Let us go to our resting-place, and 
there prepare the meat." 

So they arrived, and sat down there. 

There came also to the place where they were, other 
people, who were hunters likewise. They all remained in 
one place ; they cut firewood, and made a fire. 

Then came a leopard and snatched up part of the reed- 
buck meat which they had. 

Thereupon the men spread themselves out, in order to 
hunt the leopard. Meanwhile, there came an eland, which 
ate all the game. 

So when the men had pursued the leopard without 
success, they decided to return. 

When they arrived at the resting-place, they found all 
the game gone. 

They said, " The meat is eaten by whom ?" 

They searched very diligently, but they found no one. 
There remained behind one young person only. 

And it came to pass, when they were searching for the 
game, that an eland came down and ate the young 

The men having failed to find the man who took the 
game, returned, and found the young person amissing 
This young person had a knife in a sheath on his arm. 

When they found the child gone, they sought for him 
but found him not. 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 107 

Then they said, " Let us go home, now that the child is 
gone amissing, and since some people have taken our 
game. We have not seen the child, nor the person who 
took him." 

So they started off, and went home. 

As they were nearing their village, they cried loudly, 
making a song, saying : 

"We will report Tangalemilingo ; 
They have taken him. 
He has been taken by the water-people. 
Cock, thou art a fowl, a fowl merely, 
We will be killed. 

We will report Tangalemilingo, Tangalemilingo, 
They have taken him. 
He has been taken by the water-people. 
Cock, thou art a fowl, a fowl merely." 

So they arrived home. 

But there was Tangalemilingo. When he saw that he 
was in the eland's stomach, he drew out his knife, and cut 
the eland's stomach in two. 

So he escaped, the eland not killing him. So now no 
man kills the eland, as at one time it was Tangalemilingo. 

Then Tangalemilingo also made a song, saying : 

•' Believe ye, believe ye, 
He who disappeared, drinks the children's milk. 
He walks on the paths, 
He stands at the gate." 

So he arrived at his home, and the women were very 
glad, and rejoiced. They sang songs, and killed cattle to 
praise [the spirit] who had brought out the child. 

io8 Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

The Story of the Doings of Cakide. 

It happened that Cakide was going about seeking food. 
He failed to find it. 

He said, " See, the game is all very large, and as for me, 
I am much smaller than all ; even the coney is larger than 
I. So, then, how can I catch game ? I am much smaller 
than all the beasts, and I will therefore die of hunger. 
Where shall I go ? Ah ! I will go to the homes of people 
and search for fowls, and eat their flesh and be filled." 

Having considered thus, he went to the villages of the 
people, and came upon one which was outside, separated 
from the others, where there were no bushes, but where there 
were many fowls. He heard the hens cackling when they 
laid eggs, and the cocks crowing. 

He said, " Ha, ha ! there they go ! This village is in an 
open place, and how shall I catch the fowls ? Let me go 
and seek another village." 

So he went and searched for another village, and found 
one, but it also was in an open place, and all the fowls 
remained hid in the village. 

Cakide wondered greatly, and said, " Is it really thus ? 
Just so ! I will see where there is a village with bushes 
around it." 

He went on and on, and at length a cock crowed. He 
said, " Here a cock is crowing." 

He remained quiet, and again the cock crowed. So he 
went in the direction of the sound, and came where the cock 
was. The village was surrounded by bushes, and so Cakide 
was happy, and said, " Now I will catch these fowls easily." 

In that village there was a very great number of fowls. 
He went on the path and lay down there. The fowls now 
approached him. Cakide trembled, and the fowls were 
affrighted, and fled into the village and entered their houses. 

Cakide wondered greatly, and said, " After this I will take 

Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 109 

care not to tremble, for when I am shaking the fowls run 

So Cakide fell upon a device, and lay down, feigning 
death, and opening wide his mouth so that he might seize 
the fowls in an instant, they not having time to cry out. 

So Cakide did so, and feigned to be dead. The fowls 
came nearer and nearer, picking corn on the path, and 
Cakide was very still. As they approached nearer he 
seized a cock in his mouth, holding it tightly in an instant. 
It did not cry out. 

So he went off with the fowl, and ate it and was filled. 
He said to himself, " See now, before this I was dying of 
hunger, but to-day I am full. The fowls are many, and I 
will now grow fat and grow big." 

He finished eating the fowl. 

And the owners of the fowls began to wonder that their 
fowls were disappearing. They spoke about it to their 
children, who said, " We do not know, we never heard them 
crying out, and we know not what is eating them up. 
When they are going in that direction we have seen them 
flying away. Perhaps there are people who are beating 

The children further said to the old people, " Lie ye at 
all the paths yonder, so that ye may see what is doing away 
with your fowls." 

So the old people did so, according to the word of the 

At length Cakide came, and the people continued hid 
while he came near to them. Cakide then lay down and 
appeared as if dead. 

The people said, " There goes the evil person who has 
made away with our fowls." 

Cakide heard their words, and ran away, for the people 
were coming upon him. 

Then they took dogs and sent them after him. The 
dogs ran after him, overtook him, and seized him. Cakide 
cried greatly. 

no Folk-lore Tales of Central Africa. 

Then came the people, saying, " So then, old rascal, you 
have done away with our fowls." 

So they danced around him. The children danced 
around him, saying, " Did we not tell you ? now ye have 
caught him. There is the rascal ; ye have caught him." 
The young men also came around, and the old men and 
girls, together with all the women, young and old, and they 
ridiculed him greatly. 

When they had done thus, they killed him. He died 
on account of his thieving, for there was no one to deliver 

D. Elmslie. 



Tradiiio?is, Coiiiumes, Legefides et Cotttes des Ardennes compares 
avec les Traditions, Legendes et Contes de divers Pays, par 
Albert Meyrac. Charleville : Imprimerie du Petit Ardennais, 

Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians^ Western Slavs, and 
Magyars, by Jeremiah Curtin. London : Sampson Low, 1890. 

Dt'e Geschichte von den Sieben Weisen bei den Slaven, von Dr. M. 
Murko. Vienna : F. Tempsky, 1890. 

Les Contes populaires du Poitou, par Leon Pineau. Paris : 
E. Leroux, 1891. 

Volksmdrchen aus Pommern nnd Riigejt, gesammelt und heraus- 
gegeben von Dr. Ulrich Jahn. Erster Teil. Norden and 
Leipzig: Diedr. Soltau, 1891, 

Riigensche Sagen und Mdrchen, gesammelt und herausgegeben 
von Dr. A, Haas. Greifswald : Ludwig Bamberg, 1891. 

Waifs a7id Strays of Celtic Tradition. Argyllshire Series, 
No. III. Folk and Hero Tales. Collected, edited, translated, 
and annotated by the Rev. J. MacDougall. With an Intro- 
duction by Alfred Nutt. London : D. Nutt, 1891. 
, Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition. Argyllshire Series, 
No. IV. The Fians, or Stories, Poems, and Traditions oj 
Fionn and his Warrior Band, collected entirely from oral 
sources by John Gregorson Campbell, minister of Tiree. 
With Introduction and Bibliographical Notes by Alfred Nutt. 
London : D. Nutt, 1891. 
The Women of Turkey attd their Folk-Lore, by Lucy M. Garnett. 
With concluding chapters on the Origin of Matriarchy by 
John S. Stuart-Glennie, M.A. The Jewish and Moslem 
Women. London: D. Nutt, 1891. 

Saggio di Novelline, Catiti ed Usatize popolari delta Ciociaria, 
per cura del Dott. Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti. Palermo : 
Carlo Clausen, 1891. 
, The Folk-lore of the Isle of Man, being an account of its Myths, 
Legends, Superstitions, Customs, and Proverbs, by A. W. 
Moore, I\LA. London : D. Nutt, 1891. 

112 Report on Folk-tale Research. 

12. Le Surnaturel dans les Conies poptilatres, par Charles Ploix. 

Paris : E. Leroux, 1891. 

13. DOrigifie des Conies populaires Europeens et les Theories de 

M. Lang. Memoire prdsente au Congres des Traditions 
populaires de 1889 par Emmanuel Cosquin. Paris : Biblio- 
theque des Annales feconomiques, 1891. 

14. La Cunio de It Cujtii {II Pentamerone) di Giambattista Basile : 

testo conforme alia prima stampa del 1634-6, con Introduzione 
e Note di Benedetto Croce. Vol. I. Naples, 1891. 

15. Mann und Fuchs. Drei vergleichende Marchenstudien von 

Kaarle Krohn. Helsingfors : J. C. Frenckel, 1891. 

16. Celiic Fairy Tales, selected and edited by Joseph Jacobs. 

London : D. Nutt, 1892. 

TO attempt an account of research in any department 
of Folk-lore during the past year without including 
the Congress of London must be to omit the most import- 
ant item. This is especially true of the department of 
Folk-tales, where the problems yet awaiting solution were 
re-stated and keenly discussed from almost every point of 
view. But impressions carried away from a meeting in 
which scientific questions have been debated, whatever the 
impulse they may give to further inquiry, are not to be 
implicitly trusted as records of value ; and, until Mr. Jacobs 
and the Committee over which he presides shall give us 
the volume containing the official report, no definite esti- 
mate can be formed of the work really done. 

It is only during the last few months that the official 
report of the Congress at Paris has appeared. An interest- 
ing volume it is, and one likely to call forth many regrets 
on the part of English students that, from the time of 
year at which it was held, they were unable to take part in 
its deliberations. On the subject of folk-tales it contains 
several papers, the most important of them being a criticism 
by M. Cosquin of Mr. Andrew Lang's theories so far as 
they relate to the origin of European stories. This paper, 
which has been re-issued as a separate pamphlet, is in effect 

Report on Folk-tale Research. 113 

a summary of M. Cosquin's answer to the anthropological 

M. Cosquin begins by defining his position as regards 
Mr. Lang. The latter, he says, studies the stories chiefly 
from the psychological point of view. His researches are 
directed to discovering what may have given birth to the 
ideas, more or less grotesque, which constitute the elements 
of the stories. He is thus rather occupied with the ideas 
than the tales into which they are wrought. M. Cosquin's 
own point of view is quite different. He only inquires 
whether it be possible to discover w^hence all these tales, 
common to the European nations, have obtained their 
actual form. Not troubling himself about the origin of 
the materials — the different elements which have entered 
into the fabrication of this or that type of the tale — he 
takes the finished fabric, and, finding it everywhere, with 
its characteristic combinations, he asks himself if there has 
not been somewhere a great centre of production — a great 
factory which has been able, thanks to favouring circum- 
stances, to palm off its wares on well-nigh the whole 
world. To M. Cosquin the mint-mark of this great factory is 
visible on all its productions ; and his quarrel with Mr. Lang 
is that the latter neglects it in favour of general ideas. 
The factory itself, as we know, M. Cosquin places in India ; 
,and he re-argues his thesis with an ability and determina- 
tion that must compel his opponents to hear him and to 
consider the arguments he advances. 

Professor Kaarle Krohn read also at Paris an exposition 
of his late father, M. Jules Krohn's method of investigating 
the provenance of folk-tales. An abstract of this ex- 
position appears by way of introduction to his study of 
the fable of the fox who helps a man out of danger from 
another animal and is repaid with ingratitude, and of the 
fable of the man who hides a fox, or hare, from his 
pursuers and denies in words that he has seen him, but 
.makes signs disclosing his whereabouts. Prof Krohn, like 
JM. Cosquin, pleads for the folk-tale as itself an independ- 


1 1 4 Report on Folk-tale Research, 

ent subject of science. Separating from the tale, for the 
sake of perspicuity, all the episodes and other extrinsic 
elements, he deals with every separate adventure consist- 
ing of a single complication and resolution. He collects 
and compares the variants — that is to say, all the adven- 
tures presenting the same complication and the same 
solution ; and by doing so he believes that he is able to 
trace the tale back along its line of march, and ultimately 
to discover its birthplace. The assumption underlying 
this process is, that adventures in which the complication 
alone, or the resolution alone, is the same, may perchance 
be due to the homogeneity of human thought ; but that 
a double chance — that in which the complication and the 
resolution are the same — is out of the question. Neither 
M. Jules Krohn nor his son, the learned Professor, agrees 
with M. Cosquin in fathering all folk-tales upon the Bud- 
dhist imagination. On the contrary. Prof. Krohn says 
expressly : " Stories are the product of the activity of the 
genius of one people, whether Indian or Egyptian, as little 
as our culture is due to one nation or to one race ; rather 
they are common property, acquired by the united labour 
of the whole world, more civilised and less civilised alike.' 
At the end of a minute inquiry into the three storie:! 
comprised in his Mann und Fuchs, he comes to the con- 
clusion that one of the three belongs to the Northern, 
cycle of Beast-tales, the second comes from a jackal-tale 
invented in Egypt, and the third is a fable belonging tc 
that body of Greek literature which has descended to us 
under the name of yEsop. Prof. Krohn's study is worthy 
of close attention, both for its method and its results. 

Both M. Cosquin and Prof. Krohn are empiricist in their 
treatment of folk-tales : the latter openly and avowedly so 
the former against his will and by the necessities of his 
theory. For it is a theory with this disadvantage for an 
advocate, that the history of every individual tale must be 
investigated, and the investigation must penetrate to its 
very roots. No amount of proof that a given number of 

Report on Folk-tale Research. 1 1 5 

stories have issued from India will prove — nor even raise 
a presumption — that a single story outside that number is 
due to the same origin. M. Cosquin divides his arguments 
into arguments extrinsic, or historical, and arguments in- 
trinsic, or those which deal with certain traits of the 
stories. These traits reflect the ideas and practices of 
India ; and M. Cosquin values the intrinsic arguments so 
highly, that he contends that the true argument against 
the Indian origin of folk-tales would be to show that they 
are in contradiction with the ideas prevalent in India ; but 
this proof, he declares triumphantly, will never be forth- 
coming. That this proof will never be forthcoming may 
safely be said ; but M. Cosquin's triumph will be prema- 
ture if it turn out that the ideas and practices reflected in 
the tales are not peculiar to India, but common to man- 
kind. It will then be necessary for him to go on a fresh 
errand, for the purpose of tracing these ideas and practices 
back to their cradle in India. This is a contingency the 
distinguished author of the Contes popiilaires de la Lor- 
raine does not appear to have contemplated : but nothing 
less than this, it need hardly be said, is the theory of the 
anthropological, or, if M. Cosquin prefers, the psycho- 
logical, school. To set aside the intrinsic arguments thus, 
throws the burden of proof upon the extrinsic, or his- 
torical, arguments. The intrinsic arguments are, indeed, 
an excursus into the region M. Cosquin assigns especially 
to Mr. Lang, and to recall him to the historical arguments 
is to restore him to his own province. Here, however, he 
is deprived of the presumption arising from the intrinsic 
arguments, and the history of each particular tale has no 
avail beyond it. 

M. Ploix's little book is an expansion of a paper also 
read at the Congress of Paris. To speak frankly, it is a 
disappointing work. It may be perfectly true, as M. Ploix 
declares, that the foundation of the narrative in our old 
folk-tales is the description of a natural phenomenon, 
namely, the break of day after its imprisonment in the 

I 2 

I 1 6 Report on Folk-tale Research, 

night ; but at least we are entitled to some arguments to 
that effect. It is the more incumbent on the author to give 
some sort of proof of his position, since he admits that his 
theory is " nowadays completely out of fashion". Instead 
of doing this, he confines himself to a simple exposition of 
the mythical tales — as distinguished from the apologues 
and the drolls — in Grimm's collection, from the point of 
view of the sun-myth. Eloquent and ingenious his expo- 
sition often is, but convincing he hardly seeks to be. This 
is to be regretted, because so little has been attempted 
by any partisan of the theory identified with the names 
of Professor Max Miiller and the Count de Gubernatis in 
the way of reply to the attacks made upon it during the 
last ten or fifteen years. The consequence of this per- 
sistent abstention from polemic has been that the theory 
has become discredited, perhaps beyond its deserts ; and 
many students would welcome, in the interests of scientific 
truth, a thoroughly searching examination of the conflicting 
theories, and an argumentative restatement of the grounds 
on which rests the naturalistic system, as M. Ploix calls it, 
of explanation of the mythic element in folk-tales. It 
seems to me, therefore, that the president of the Soci^te 
des Traditions Populaires has missed an opportunity. An 
exposition, such as he has written, may have its value to 
those who hold with him : a controversial work would 
have had a value far beyond that limit ; and coming from 
the hands of one so distinguished as M. Ploix, it might 
have formed a substantial contribution to the controversy. 
Meanwhile the work of collection proceeds. A portion 
of M. Meyrac's large and laborious work on the traditions 
of the Ardennes is devoted to tales. These, the author 
tells us, he gives just as they have been related to him, 
without addition or ornament. But it is rarely that he 
vouchsafes us the name of the person to whom he is 
indebted ; and then it is usually not a man or woman of 
the folk, but some instituteur, or institutrice, or com- 
mandant de gendarmerie. The impression left upon the 

Report on Folk-taie Research. 1 1 7 

mind is that his materials have been for the most part 
btained at second-hand. This impression may be er- 
roneous ; though it is certainly confirmed, not only by the 
style of many of the sagas, but also by such opening 
phrases as : " Vers la fin du dix-septieme siecle vivait a," — 
"Vers I'an 1608 le bon roi Henri IV eut une heureuse 
idee," — " Un beau matin de I'an 1777 tout Rethel fut 
reveille par un regiment," — and so forth. The Contes 
divers — drolls, beast-tales, and incirchen — are generally 
better given. Some of them are stated to have been 
obtained, directly or indirectly, from school-children ; and 
one is transcribed in dialect from the dictation of a story- 
teller who repeated it at a veillee in the commune of 
Rimogne. In his notes M. Meyrac draws attention to 
variants, sometimes in works little known to the English 

M. Pineau's Contes populaires du Poitou belongs to the 
Collection de Contes et Chansons populaires published at 
irregular intervals by Ernest Leroux. It is a small but good 
collection of forty-eight stories of various kinds gathered, 
as we are told in the Preface, at a little place in the valley 
of the Vienne called Lussac-les-Chateaux, from villagers, 
some of whom he characterises in a sentence or two of 
light but true touches. They ought, however, to have 
been credited separately and by name with the stories they 
furnished, and the details of their ages, occupations, etc., 
should have been mentioned. When will collectors learn 
to do this ? 

Dr. Ulrich Jahn has followed up his Volkssagen aus 
Pontmern und Riigen, and his other services to the study of 
the folk-life of Pomerania, by the first instalment of a 
collection of Volksmdrchen aus Poinmern und Riigen. 
Having in view the attack made upon him by Dr. Veck- 
enstedt, it is natural first to turn to his Introduction in 
order to ascertain what he has to say about the persons 
from whom he gets his tales, and his mode of collection. 
And it is impossible to read many of his interesting pages 

ii8 Report on Folk-tale Research. 

without feeling that one is in the presence of an experienced 
and sincere folk-lorist. His paragraphs are too long to 
quote ; but they are well worthy of study by everyone who 
desires either himself to undertake the task of collection, or 
to appreciate the difficulties and the pleasures of the work 
wherein others are engaged, and to learn how to dis- 
tinguish the true collection from the sham, MlircJien, as 
he rightly says, are much harder to gather than any other 
kind of folk-lore — or at least any other kind of folk-tales ; 
and the stories contained in the volume before us, unlike 
many of those in his Volkssagen, are given direct from the 
mouth of the people. All but two of them were taken 
down by himself. It is to be regretted, especially after 
Dr. Veckenstedt's charges, that Dr. Jahn has not thought 
proper to name the persons to whom he is indebted for 
them. This is a course that, I think, has never been taken 
in Germany, but the sooner it is begun the better. In the 
notes are to be found abstracts of variants, some of which 
are already in print. The stories in the text are well told, 
and bear the usual marks of popular narration. The 
Introduction contains, in addition to the remarks I have 
just referred to, some very instructive observations on the 
subject-matter and form of the tales, the relation between 
oral narratives in verse and prose — between singing and 
saying — and the changes undergone by the tales from time 
to time in the mouths of the folk. In the latter connection 
Dr. Jahn gives an instance of the transformations suffered 
by the story of Aladdin, learnt by heart by a servant-girl 
from an abridgment of the Arabian Nights, and from her 
by an accomplished reciter in her native village. When the 
author heard it from this man, nearly a generation later, it 
was in process of becoming a folk-tale once more, but not 
without adaptations to its new environment. Aladdin, the 
dirty, disobedient boy, for example, had been made into a 
red-haired, godless. Simple Simon of a fellow, who could 
neither read nor write, nor repeat even the Lord's Prayer 
correctly. The enchanted garden where the fruits were 

Report on Folk-tale Research. 1 1 9 

precious stones had become the Venus-garden of German 
folk-lore. And the roc's egg {Rochet) had been hatched 
into a King Reckei, whose hanging in the dome of his 
palace the hero was made to demand. 

Dr. Haas' collection includes both sagas and mdrchen, 
but relates only to the island of Rligen. A large part, but 
not the whole, of the tales has been obtained from verbal 
communication, some having been already printed by 
Arndt, Temme, Jahn, Kuhn, and others. In an appendix 
Dr. Haas discusses the Hertha-saga localised on the island. 
He shows that it is unknown to the earliest topographers. 
The first writer who identifies the insula oceani mentioned 
by Tacitus with Rligen is Philipp Kliiver in a work en- 
titled Gennania Anttqua, published at Leyden in 16 16. The 
hill and lake now called Herthaburg and Herthasee re- 
spectively were always known under the names of Borg- 
wall and Borgsee, or the Black Lake, until about eighty or 
ninety years ago ; and Dr. Haas attributes the change to 
the influx of strangers which began early in the present 
century. The weird sagas relating to the spot have grown 
up doubtless in response to the demands of these strangers, 
though they now appear to be thoroughly domiciled among 
the folk of Rugen. It affords me special satisfaction to 
mention this here for the purpose of correcting any im- 
pression which may have been conveyed to the minds of 
readers of FOLK-LORE by a reference on page 2 14 of vol. i, 
to Hertha's manifestations at the Black Lake. I may add, 
however, that the reasoning, whether of the article contain- 
ing the reference, or in the more complete and permanent 
shape it subsequently assumed, would appear to be un- 
touched, though one of its most picturesque illustrations is 
torn away. 

The Saggio di Novelline, Canti ed Usanze popolari delta 
Ciociaria, by Dr. Targioni-Tozzetti, contains, among other 
folk-lore, twenty-nine tales of various kinds — inarchen, 
legends of the saints, apologues, and drolls. Many of the 
tales are interesting for themselves ; and to each one is 

1 20 Report on Folk-tale Research. 

appended the name of the relater — in many cases, women 
— but rarely any further particulars. The volume is dedi- 
cated to Dr. Pitre, under whose editorship it is published as 
the tenth volume of his Curiositd popolari Tradiziojiali. 

Mr. Curtin has committed the fault of which Miss Hod- 
getts was guilty in her Tales and Legejids ft'oin the Land of 
the Tzar, noticed in my last report ; and it is the less 
excusable in a gentleman who dates his Introduction from 
the Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology, and who 
may therefore be presumed to write in an accurate and 
scientific spirit. His book consists of translations from 
Russian, Bohemian, and Magyar sources. But spirited as 
the translation is, and useful as it is to English students to 
have versions of these Slav and Magyar tales, it is annoying 
to have to find out for oneself whence the stories are taken, 
instead of being frankly told ; and for a student's purpose 
the omission detracts from the value of the book. Two of 
the Russian stories have been already put before the 
English reader by the late Mr. Ralston, namely, " The 
Footless and Blind Champions", and " Marya Morevna" ; 
the latter is also in Miss Hodgetts' volume. " Vasilissa 
the Cunning and the Tsar of the Sea" is apparently a 
variant of the tale given by Ralston as the " Water King 
and Vasilissa the Wise" ; and the same relation seems to 
exist between " Ivan Tsarevich, the Fire Bird, and the 
Grey Wolf of Mr. Curtin and Miss Hodgetts' "Grey 
Wolf and the Golden Cassowary". I have not traced any 
of the Bohemian tales ; but the Magyar tale of " Mirko the 
King's Son" is included in Jones and Kropf s Folk-tales of 
the Magyars^ published a year or two since by this Society. 
As the total number of stories in the volume is thirty-one, 
the proportion of duplicates with those previously in our 
hands is thus only a small one. 

The tales Miss Garnett has to tell in her Women of 
Ttirkey are, like those in the previous volume noticed last 
year, translations of stories previously in print, and not 
collected by her. They are hardly the less welcome to 

Report on Folk-tale Research. 121 

many English students on that account, as the sources from 
which they are derived are little known here, and Miss 
Garnett deserves our thanks for drawing our attention to 
them. But she has unaccountably failed to name her 
authority for some of the tales, as for example the tale of 
the pastoicrjnd 3.nd several of the delightful Jewish stories 
which follow it. 

Mr. Gomme has already dealt with Mr. Stuart-Glennie's 
concluding chapters ; and it would be impertinent of me 
to take up space here in replying to the controversial 
observations upon statements of mine, which appear in- 
cidentally in Mr. Stuart-Glennie's exposition of his theory 
on Matriarchy. I think it right only to protest against his 
assumption that " the Hypothesis of Spontaneous Origin- 
ation", with which he does me the honour to credit me in 
common with Mr. Andrew Lang, has received " the collec- 
tive imprimatur of the Folk-lore Society". I am a little in 
the dark as to what the Society's " collective imprimatur" 
may be in this connection ; but if it be intended to imply 
that the Society, as such, is committed to what I have 
ventured to call the Anthropological Theory,and Mr. Jacobs 
the Casual Theory, of the origin of folk-tales, then let me 
assure Mr. Stuart-Glennie that he is entirely mistaken. 
The Society has never expressed any opinion on the sub- 
ject. It consists of members holding a wide diversity of 
opinions, most, if not all, of which are represented on the 
Council ; and any expression of a collective opinion on this 
or any other subject in controversy would in the present 
state of our scientific knowledge be much to be regretted. 
Mr. Stuart-Glennie need, therefore, have no hesitation in 
marshalling the evidence in support of his own hypothesis : 
the sooner he does so, the sooner he will have the chance of 
converting us all. But until the evidence be forthcoming 
he must not blame us for being deaf to the voice of the 

I have left to the last a group of collections of Celtic 
tales, three of them local collections, and the fourth of a 

122 Report on Folk-tale Research. 

more general character. Mr. Moore's little book is valuable 
because it is the first attempt made during scientific times 
to gather together the folk-lore of the Isle of Man, The 
author possesses the first requisite for success in collecting 
and collating folk-lore — a genuine enthusiasm ; and his 
materials are put together with judgment. In another 
edition (if, as we may hope, another edition be called for) 
he should give chapter and verse for his references to 
printed books, where he only gives us now " Train", 
" Waldron", etc., and the names and other details of the 
correspondents and informants to whom he has been in- 
debted for the remaining talcs and accounts of customs and 
superstitions. Mr, Moore's local and personal knowledge 
might also be made available in other ways. For instance, 
it would be useful to put on record the name of the lady in 
whose possession the Cup of Ballafletcher now is, and who 
was so kind as to allow Mr. Moore to have a photograph 
of it taken for exhibition at the Congress. Tangible and 
material proof of the truth of a folk-tale is not to be obtained 
everywhere. " The Buggane of St. Trinian's," given from 
Train, is a variant of Mr, Jacobs' tale of "The Sprightly 
Tailor", related in some respects with even more dramatic 
force. The introductory remarks on previous collectors 
and on the costume and mode of life of the inhabitants of 
the island will be useful to the student. 

I have indulged in such a monotone of grumbling at the 
want of precision on the part of collectors in indicating 
their authorities that it will be a relief to any readers who 
have had the patience to follow me thus far, as it certainly 
is a pleasure to me, to meet at length with a collection 
really fulfilling scientific requirements in this respect. 
The Rev. J. MacDougall's Folk and Hero Tales, ten in 
number, were all obtained from one man, Alexander 
Cameron, "a native of Ardnamurchan, who was then 
roadman between Duror and Ballachulish". But, not 
satisfied with hearing them from him, Mr, MacDougall went 
further. He inquired the names of the persons from whom 

Report on Folk-tale Research. 1 2 3 

Cameron had heard them, who they were, whence they 
came, and when they told the tales ; he satisfied himself as 
to the power of Cameron's memory, and finally made in- 
vestigations which convinced him that the stories were 
generally known as folk-tales in Argyllshire and the neigh- 
bourhood. They come to us, therefore, with credentials of 
an unexceptionable character; and they are given not only 
in English but also in their original Gaelic, for whom it 
may concern. The importance of accuracy, such as Mr. 
MacDougall displays, is insisted on in a vigorous passage of 
Mr. Alfred Nutt's Introduction to the volume before us. I 
take leave to quote the passage in full, not only for its own 
qualities, but because I am happy to shelter my pertinacity 
on this point beneath the authority of one who cannot be 
accused of being insensible to any literary charm that may 
distinguish stories valueless for scientific purposes. He 
says : — " At a comparatively early stage of the study the 
searcher after facts as facts came to see the importance of 
getting them in the most genuine form obtainable. This, 
too, has been set down to his innate pedantry. And yet a 
moment's reflection shows that, important as a rigorous 
and accurate method is to him, it is yet more important to 
the student who values folk-lore as the expression of what 
is most essential and intimate in the consciousness of a 
race. If by its means we can indeed diagnose the spiritual 
and intellectual temper of mankind before it has been 
transformed and levelled by modern culture, is it not 
absolutely necessary that the diagnosis should be based 
upon ascertained fact ? Yet, strange to say, men who pro- 
fess the most enthusiastic sympathy for the ' folk', are 
content to ground their enthusiasm upon material which 
has as much claim to be called ' folk-lore' as the majority 
of circulating-library novels. Stranger still, this particular 
form of cant is always sure of outside countenance, and the 
writers are many to bewail as dreadful or shocking the 
desire for accurate knowledge of folk-lore, and the refusal 
to indulge in pretty but unmeaning generalities." 

124 Report on Folk-tale Research. 

Four of the ten stories given by Mr. MacDougall belong 
to the Fian — or Fenian — cycle. The whole of its com- 
panion volume, by the late (alas that we have to write 
late !) Rev. J. G. Campbell of Tiree, is devoted to the same 
cycle. Several of the stories preserved by the latter are 
found in verse, some of them only in verse. Of some of 
the stones abstracts alone are given. Nor has Mr. Camp- 
bell authenticated all with the names of the tellers, 
though he is fully alive to the necessity of presenting them 
to the reader " uncooked", as he expresses it. But there is 
no reason to doubt that they are truly traditional and a 
contribution of value to students of folk-lore in general, as 
well as of Celtic literature, narrated as they are both in 
English and Gaelic. It is a great pity that Celtic anti- 
quaries cannot agree upon one form for their heroes*^ 
names, at least when intended for the English reader. 
Erse and Gaelic seem to have departed, even further than 
English, if that be possible, from a rational, phonetic 
system of spelling. The consequence is that we have their 
proper names in almost every conceivable shape. For ex- 
ample, in this one volume the chief hero appears in the 
English portions as Fionn Mac Cumhail, Fion Mac Cum- 
hail, Fionn Mac Cumal, Finn Mac Cumal, Fionn Mac- 
Coul, Fin-mac-Coul, Fionn, Finn, Fin, and Fingal. How- 
many transformations he undergoes in the Gaelic portion 
I cannot, of course, undertake to say. I believe, however, 
the above list by no means exhausts the forms which this 
one name has been known to assume ; and it is anything 
but unique in this respect. 

Mr. Alfred Nutt's Introduction deals chiefly with Prof. 
Zimmer's new theory identifying the heroes of the Ossianic 
cycle (a better expression than Fenian, or Fian, cycle) with 
the Vikings. To readers who claim no special familiarity 
with Irish history and literature, and who regard the ques- 
tions raised by Prof. Zimmer merely as they affect the 
science of tradition in general, Mr. Nutt's arguments appear 
to carry great weight. Personally, I utterly disbelieve the 

Report on Folk-tale Research. 125 

possibility of recovering from the Ossianic narratives any- 
historical facts at all corresponding to the details of the 
legends, just as I disbelieve in the possibility of recovering 
the traits of the historical Arthur, if there ever were such a 
being, or the events of the Trojan war, if there ever were 
such an expedition. The names of Achilles, of Arthur, 
and of Fin-mac-Coul are purely mythic. They have 
gathered about themselves the floating traditions of the 
tribe or nation which held them in reverence, and all its 
glory has settled on their heads. All over the world may 
be observed this tendency of one great name to absorb the 
splendours with which the mythopceic faculty of a people 
having a consciousness of common origin or common 
interest fills the unrecorded past. It has created many a 
national epic ; it has inspired many a national movement ; 
it has formed a bond linking together many a scattered 
and down-trodden nationality and preserving it until the 
favourable moment of its regeneration. But it by no 
means follows that this great name has ever belonged to a 
live human hero, still less that the acts attributed to him 
were ever performed. Professor Zimmer builds something 
on the etymology of the words Fin or Fene and Fiann. 
We who have seen these words wrested in another sense 
are hardly likely to attach much importance to derivations 
of so doubtful a character. The learned professor may be 
a professional philologist, in which case it would become us 
to make such remarks with bated breath ; but until even 
professional philologists accustom themselves to make their 
guesses a little less positively than many of them still do, 
we can afford to bow politely at their assertions and wait 
for proof 

Mr, Jacobs' Celtic Fairy Tales is a companion volume to 
the English Fairy Tales noticed in last year's Report, 
equally delightful to children of larger or smaller growth. 
Mr. Jacobs well says that he has again to rejoice in the co- 
operation of his artist-friend, Mr. J. D. Batten, whose illus- 
trations are among the few that can be described as really 

126 Report on Folk-tale Rcscajxh. 

illuminating a book of fairy-tales. Of the six-and-tvventy 
stories comprised within these pale-green covers only two 
arc new to print, both reported by Mr. Alfred Nutt from 
the late Mr. D. W. Logic's recitation. Of one of these — 
" Andrew Coffey" — Mr. Jacobs knows of no parallels but 
two Irish tales. The other is a variant of "Big Peter 
and Little Peter", with Big Peter magnified into the firm 
of Hudden and Dudden. In this form the story is not 
common, and it has never been reported from Wales in 
any shape. It may be interesting, therefore, to students 
to learn that Professor Rhys, as he informs me, remembers 
hearing it in his boyhood from a farm-servant near Devil's 
Bridge, in North Cardiganshire. There were two rich 
brothers in the story, corresponding with Hudden and 
Dudden, and when the cunning poor man, answering to 
Donald in Mr. Logic's version, had thrown one of them 
into the water, bubbles rose above the spot. The other 
brother asked : " What is he doing ? " " Picking out the 
fattest sheep," replied the cunning fellow. " Then throw 
me in quick ! " And thrown in he accordingly was. 

Mr. Jacobs has abridged the famous mabinogi of 
"Kilhwch and Olwen". In the Mabifiogion itself this 
story always presents itself to me as only half developed. 
The earlier half is told fully ; the latter is no more than 
an abstract. If the romancer has painted at full length 
Olwen's wooing, he has greatly foreshortened an important 
part of it. The demand for her hand and all that led up to 
the popping of that question, and the laborious gathering of 
the champions to hunt the mythic boar, are related in detail, 
but the hunt itself is cut short. Now so many traces re- 
main in Wales of the incidents of the hunt, localised here 
and there, that I can hardly think the story was always 
curtailed in this fashion. And what a tale it must have 
been in the mouths of the old professional bards ! If we 
could have had it as they told it there is not a folk-tale in 
the world that would have equalled it. 

The student will naturally turn to Mr. Jacobs' notes, 

Report on Folk-tale Research. 1 2 7 

both to read his confessions of "adaptation", and to learn 
the results of his researches. The most interesting of the 
latter is undoubtedly his investigation of the Gelert legend, 
and the time and manner in which it became localised at 
Beddgelert. He seems, indeed, to have solved this latter 
question, and shown that the local tradition is less 
than a hundred years old, and is of literary origin — a 
parallel to the Hertha tradition on the isle of Rugen. The 
fable, however, must have been widely known in Wales 
during the Middle Ages, of which the Warwick roll is a 
very singular and, if genuine, conclusive piece of evidence. 
I do not lay any stress on the place-names mentioned 
by Croker in the passage quoted by Mr. Jacobs, though it 
is possible they may owe their origin to the story. But 
the fact of its adoption into the arms of the Principality, as 
evidenced by the Warwick roll, implies much more than 
wide dissemination. It must somehow have got identified 
wath the national history, or with some event in the family 
history of the princes. This is a point that Mr. Jacobs 
has failed to clear up. The legend has been localised at 
many other places. The instance in the south of France, 
mentioned in the Liber de Bonis of Etienne de Bourbon, 
which I only know from the account given of it by Prof. 
Crane as quoted by Mr. Clouston {Popular Tales and Fic- 
tions, vol ii, p. 168), shows that the story had there become 
attached to a local non-Christian shrine where rites familiar 
to students of folk-lore were performed. The same fable 
is related in modern India in more than one form, and the 
river Kukrel, near Lucknow, is said, in one of the variants, 
to have sprung from the spot where the dog was buried. 
The literary genealogy through DolopatJios and The Seven 
Wise Masters has received much attention. Probably the 
European versions wherein a dog figures as the hero are 
to be traced through one or other of these collections. 
Even then, however, the questions arising out of the tale 
have by no means all been solved. It does not seem to have 
been noticed by any of the learned men who have written 

128 Report on Folk-tale Research. 

upon them that a version quite different from the literary- 
versions usually traced back to the Panchatantra or the 
Vinaya Pitaka was already localised in Greece in the 
second century of our era. Pausanias in his account of 
Phocis (I quote for convenience from Thomas Taylor's 
translation) says : " From Lilaea there is a road of about 
sixty stadia in length, which leads to Amphiclea. The 
inhabitants of this place have corrupted the name of the 
city ; for Herodotus, following the most ancient reports, 
calls it Ophitea ; and the Amphictyons, when a decree 
was passed for destroying the cities of the Phocenses, gave 
it the name of Ophitea. But the natives relate the follow- 
ing particulars concerning this city : A certain powerful 
man, suspecting the stratagems of his enemies, placed his 
son in a vessel, such as is used for the reception of liquor, 
trusting that in this place he would be concealed with 
security. A wolf, however, rushed on the boy in his place 
of concealment ; but a strong dragon, winding himself 
round the vessel, defended him from the assaults of the 
wolf. The father, some time after this, came to see his son, 
and, supposing that the dragon had destroyed him, hurled 
his dart at the animal, and, together with the dragon, slew 
his son. But when he understood, from certain shepherds, 
that the boy was slain by his own hands, and that the 
dragon had been the benevolent guardian of his son, he 
raised a funeral pile for the dragon and the boy in common ; 
and they say that the place retains vestiges of this funeral- 
pile even at present, and that the city was denominated 
Ophitea from the dragon." Here the story is connected 
with serpent-worship. The allusions (for example, to " the 
stratagems of his enemies" and to the shepherds) are 
evidence that Pausanias' report is much condensed ; and 
they point to a larger body of local tradition dealing per- 
haps with the foundation of the city and the establishment 
of the dragon-cult. I have not discovered in a cursory 
search the passage where Herodotus mentions the city. 
Nor can it be assumed as certain that the story was current 

Report on Folk -tale Research. 129 

in his day, though the dragon-cult probably then existed 
as well as the city named from the dragon. But even if 
we admit this, and further call to mind Alexander's expe- 
dition and the intercourse between East and West that 
followed it — all between the date of Herodotus and that of 
Pausanias — yet so different is the form of the legend from 
any known Indian variant, and so curious are the details 
which link it to Ophitea, that it would require M. Cosquin's 
powerful spectacles to induce us to see the mint-mark of 
the Buddhist workshop upon it. I conclude, therefore, 
that whether or not the story issued in all its forms from a 
single factory, there were versions known in Europe — at 
least there was one version — independent of the literary 
current through which the apologue is generally traced ; 
and before the inquiries on the subject are closed some 
consideration must be given to the spread of this tradi- 
tional version and to its possible influence on the literary 

The chief feature of Dr. Murko's essay on the History of 
the Seven Wise Masters among the Slavs is his full account 
of a newly discovered Bohemian version and of the various 
Russian texts. 

The edition of Basile's work, of which the first volume 
has appeared during the past year, is a careful and beautiful 
reprint, with foot-notes explaining the most difficult words 
in dialect, of the editions of 1634-6, which were printed 
from his own manuscripts. Some historical notes are 
added ; and an Introduction is prefixed, containing a 
biography, accompanied by illustrative documents, and a 
discussion of TJie Tale of Tales as a literary work, and of 
its relation to comparative storiology. 

E. Sidney Hartland. 

VOL. Ill, 



January 13TH, 1892. 

OWING to the great amount of work which fell upon 
the members of the Council in connection with the 
International Folk-lore Congress of 1891, the Council were 
unable to give their usual detailed attention to all branches 
of the Society's work. They feel, however, that the members 
of the Society will not disapprove of this when they con- 
sider with what great success the Congress was conducted ; 
and that the Congress has done more than anything else in 
England to draw public attention to the aims of the Society 
and the attention of scholars to the good work done, and to 
be done, by the Society. 

So important an event in the history of Folk-lore indeed 
does the Congress appear to be, that the Council, imme- 
diately after its termination, considered that the time had 
arrived for a new departure, and that, in order to allow the 
Society fuller scope, its executive must, to some extent at 
any rate, be reorganised. With this object in view, the 
Council are considering the best means of securing in 
London a permanent habitation, of forming a library, and, 
if possible, a museum of folk-lore objects, and of consti- 
tuting in each of the counties or districts of the United 
Kingdom some form of local organisation. These objects 
must be recognised by all as important for the collection of 
materials of folk-lore, and every effort will be made to secure 
their being carried out at no great distance of time. One 

Annual Report of the Coimcil. 1 3 1 

step in this direction has been made by the Council in 
unanimously adopting a resolution : " That the time has 
arrived when it is advisable, in the best interests of the 
Society, that a paid Secretary be substituted for an 
Honorary Secretary." The Council believe that by 
appointing a permanent paid official they may be able at 
no distant date to complete the scheme of organisation 
which they have in hand. 

Unfortunately, at this juncture the Council had to face 
the loss of Mr. Gomme's services as Director, and of Mr. 
Foster's services as Honorary Secretary. Mr. Gomme has 
served the Society first as Hon. Secretary, and subse- 
quently as Director, ever since its formation in 1878, and 
two years ago he informed the Council of his wish to resign 
owing to his inability to devote so much time to the work. 
At the request of the Council he continued to occupy his 
old post, and when he informed them again this year of his 
wish to resign, they felt they ought not any longer to resist 
his decision. Mr. Foster has served the Society for 
six years as Honorary Secretary, and upon his resignation 
the Council passed a cordial vote of thanks to him for his 
very considerable services, and they feel sure that the 
Society will endorse this vote. 

The resignation of Mr. Lang as President is also another 
source of regret, and the Council feel that the Society owe 
him a great debt for giving them so long the benefit of 
his name and of his assistance. 

The roll of members remains practically stationary, and 
the Society has to lament the loss of Earl Beauchamp, one 
of its Vice-Presidents, and formerly one of its Presidents, 
and of the Earl of Powis, one of its Vice-Presidents. 

The Council wish to impress upon every member of the 
Society the urgent need of more help in money and work. 
Help in both these directions is absolutely essential if the 
organisation of the Society is to be extended ; and it would 
be indeed lamentable if, after so many years of encouraging 
progress, there should be any failing of the necessary help 


132 Annual Report of the Council. 

now that such help is needed for the most important part 
of the Society's work. 

Evening meetings have been held on the following dates : 
January 21st, February i8th, March i8th, April 22nd, 
May 27th, June 17th, November nth, and December 9th. 

The Papers read at these meetings were — 

Folk-lore of Malagasy Birds. By Rev. J. Sibree. 

Recent Theories about King Arthur. By Mr. A. Nutt. 

Childe Rowland. By Mr. J. Jacobs. 

Notes on English Folk-Drama. By Mr. T. F. Ordish. 

Notes on Manx Folk-lore. By Professor Rhys. 

The Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs. By Rev. W. Gregor. 

Notes on some S. African Folk-lore. By Rev. James McDonald. 

A Relic of Samaritan Folk-lore. By Rev. Dr. Lowy. 

The Lai of Eliduc and the Marchen of Little Snow-White. By 

Mr. A. Nutt. 
Further Notes on Manx Folk-lore. By Professor Rhys. 

The publications for the year are: Folk- Lore, vol. ii, which 
has been issued to members in its usual quarterly parts, 
and the Denham Tracts, vol. i, which has not yet been 
issued, but which is far advanced in the press, and will, it 
is expected, be ready for delivery to members by March 
next. The Council has in hand for 1892 the translation of 
Saxo Granunaticus, by Mr. Oliver Elton, with an Intro- 
duction by Mr. York Powell, and they are glad to report 
that a portion of the MS. is already in the printer's hands. 
There is also the volume of Cinderella story-variants, 
now being edited by Miss Roalfe Cox. Some delay has 
taken place owing to the difficulty of getting some of the 
less accessible variants from Finland and from Italy ; 
but, thanks to Dr. Krohn and to Dr. Pitre, these difficulties 
are being overcome, and the volume will not now be long 
delayed. It will form the first fairly complete collection of 
materials for the study of one story, and the Council hope 
that it may be the standard and example of other volumes 
on similar lines. 

In connection with the proposed organisation of county 
or district centre^ all over the kingdom, it is desirable 

Annual Report of the Council. 133 

that each local committee should first of all prepare a 
reprint of the folk-lore relating to the county which has 
appeared in the local histories, old chronicles, Notes and 
Queries, and other similar sources, which at present lie 
scattered about and inaccessible. The Council propose to 
issue such a reprint for the county of Gloucester as a 
specimen, and it has been prepared by Mr. E. Sidney 
Hartland. It is expected that these reprints will com- 
mand a local sale, and when sufficient are in type to 
form a volume, they will be edited and annotated, and 
issued to members. Both Leicestershire and Norfolk 
have moved in the matter of local organisation, and Mr. 
Charles J. Billson of the former county, and Mr. Gerish 
and Miss Matthews of the latter county, are prepared to 
assist. The Council desire if possible to depute one of 
their members or the Secretary to attend the inauguration 
of each local Committee, so that by means of the printed 
collection of County Folk-lore, and the presence of a 
representative of the Society, real progress may be made 
with this important work. 

The accounts of the Society as audited are presented 
herewith. The Council desire to call attention to the 
satisfactory financial position of the Society, as, after 
paying considerable arrears of printing bills, there is a 
substantial balance in hand to complete the printing of 
the volume in hand for 1891. It is gratifying to note 
that in Messrs. Nutt's hands the sale of publications has 
greatly increased. The Council have agreed to advance 
to the Congress Committee such funds as it may require 
for printing the Transactions pending the completion of 
the accounts. 

The Council, in considering their recommendation for the 
office of President, unanimously agreed that Mr. Gomme 
should be asked to serve in that capacity. They felt that 
if Mr. Gomme would agree to the proposal it would be a 
great benefit to the Society at this period of its existence, 
and they are glad to think that Mr. Gomme has assented 

134 Annual Report of the Council. 

to the wish of his colleagues. The other recommendations 
are: — 

As Vice-Presidents — Mr. A. Lang, Dr. Tylor, Sir J. 
Lubbock, General Pitt Rivers, Professor A. H. Sayce, and 
Professor Rhys. As Members of Council — The Hon. J. 
Abercromby, Dr. Karl Blind, Mr. E. W. Brabrook, Dr. R. 
Brown, Miss Burne, Miss Roalfe Cox, Mr. J. P. Emslie, 
Mr. J. G. Frazer, Mr. J. J. Foster, Dr. Gaster, Professor 
A. C. Haddon, Mr. E. S. Hartland, Mr. A. G. Hutt, Mr. J. 
Jacobs, His Honour Judge Brynmor Jones, Mr. W. F. Kirby, 
Mr. C. G. Leland, Mr. A. Nutt, Mr. T. F. Ordish, and Mr. 
Wheatley. As Treasurer — Mr Edward Clodd. As 
Auditors — Messrs. G. L. Apperson and J. Tolhurst; and 
as Secretary, Mr. F. A. Milne. The Council do not recom- 
mend any appointment for the office of Director vacated 
by Mr. Gomme, and they desire that the question of the 
appointment of Local Secretaries be considered in connec- 
tion with the steps to be taken for the more effectual 
organisation of the Society throughout the country. 

A. Lang, President. 
G. L. GOMME, Director. 

Annual Report of the Council. 


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6 JFolk-lore Society. 


The Annual General Meeting of the Folk-lore Society was held 
at 22, Albemarle Street, on Wednesday, January 13th, 1892, Mr. 
E. Clodd in the Chair. 

The Annual Report having been read by the Assistant-Secretary, 
and briefly commented on by the Chairman, it was proposed by 
the Chairman, and seconded by Mr. Jacobs, and resolved unani- 
mously, that the Report be received, adopted, and entered on the 

On the motion of the Chairman it was resolved that the Balance 
Sheet be taken as read. 

The Officers and Members of Council nominated for election 
by the Report were then elected en bloL\ the name of Mr. J. T. 
Naake being substituted as a Member of Council in the place of 
Dr. R. Brown, resigned. 



To the Editor of FOLK-LORE. 

Sir, — Will you allow mc to bring before your readers 
an enigma which is, I think, interesting, and as yet un- 
solved ? 

Why does early man make ritual use of chained or 
fettered images ? and whence come his myths and legends 
of chained and captive deities (other than the volcanic 
" earth-shakers") ? 

As typical Greek examples, perhaps I may quote the 
bound Actaeon statue which Pausanias saw at Orchemenos 
{Pans., ix, 38, 6) ; the yearly 7-ites celebrated to Hera at 
Samos in the " festival called Tonens", where the statue of 
the goddess (" tightly bound" in willow branches in the 
legend) was carried down to the sea-shore and hidden 
{AtJienceus, xv, c 13 ; Bohn, p. 1073); and in myth the 
fettering of Ares by the Aloidae in the "strong prison 
house ; yea in a vessel of bronze lay he bound thirteen 
months" {Iliad, v, 386). 

The chaining with an iron chain of a cultus image, in 
ritual, occurs in China ; the binding in an iron " Dresch- 
haus" in Finnish myth ; and there is, of course, the straw 
rope prominent in Japanese Shinto temples and custom ; 
but all such analogies fail as yet to solve the riddle. 

Is it too much to hope that the kindness or interest of 
some readers of Folk-Lore may prompt them to impart 
any suggestive facts, undeterred by Athenseus' scorn of 
those interpreters of willow-rites who " said many irrele- 
vant things on the subject" ? Not living in the period of 

138 ' Correspondence. 

the Comparative Method, how should he know the scien- 
tific value of irrelevancy ? 

May I put the point briefly, as begging for any informa- 
tion on — 

1. Instances of images (or sacred persons, animals, objects, 
or places) bound with ropes, chains, branches, etc. ; at 
special times ; and permanently ? 

2. Ritudl in connection with them ? 

3. Myth or legend (though these are, of course, far less 
valuable than actual rite or image) of fettered or im- 
prisoned deities or heroes, other than the volcanic myths ? 

Peasant custom, as well as cultus ritual (cf Mannhardt, 
Mytliologische ForscJmngen, p. 320 et seq., on the roping of 
the " Korngeist", Last Sheaf in the harvests of Silesia, etc.), 
should yield evidence, could one find it. 

Gertrude M. Godden. 


Churn Charm. — The following charm was communicated to me by 
a gentleman past eighty-five years of age, as having been used by his 
mother (a Norfolk woman) whilst churning her butter : " St. Peter is 
standing at the gate. Come, butter, to the gate ! Come, butter, 
come." The family was not a Roman Catholic one. A. NUTT. 

Sympathetic Bees. — My mother, who passed much of her youth in 
the village of Bake well in Northamptonshire, tells me that the belief 
in the necessity of telling the bees everything was very strong there. 
At the death of a sister of hers, some of the cake and wine which was 
served to the mourners after the funeral was placed inside each hive, 
in addition to the crape put upon each. At her own wedding (in 
1849) a small piece of wedding-cake was placed on each hive. 



Among the papers in the June number of FoLK-LoRE 
will be the continuation of " Samoan Tales", by the Hon. J. 
Abercromby; a number of South African tales by the 
Rev. James Macdonald; "The Sin Eater", by Mr. E. 
Sidney Hartland ; and " The Christmas Tree", by Prof 
Tille, of Glasgow. 

Our subject is becoming recognised as a science by 
men of science. In his recently published Grammar of 
Science, Prof Karl Pearson places Folk-lore in its due place 
in the classification of the sciences, along with psychology 
and other of the so-called " moral sciences". 

Mr. W. W. Newell gives in the current number of the 
Journal of the A merican Folk-lore Society a report on the 
recent Congress, giving a careful and unbiassed resume of 
the chief papers read, etc. In a further " Note" on the 
matter, he expresses the opinion that the next Congress 
will take place on the Continent. It is to be hoped that 
this does not definitely exclude a meeting at the World's 
Fair in Chicago next year. 

One of the oldest members of the Folk-lore Society, 
Mr. Andrews, has collected the folk-lore of the Riviera, 
and published it in French. 

The first volume of the Denham Tracts is all in type, 
and will be shortly issued to members as the volume for 
1 89 1. The second volume is also progressing. 

140 Notes and Netus. 

An important step has been taken towards the collection 
of English folk-lore by Mr. E. Sidney Hartland, who has 
collected the folk-lore printed in county histories, news- 
papers, etc., of the county in which he resides — Gloucester- 
shire. The Folk-lore Society has caused the extracts to 
be printed, and it is hoped that other counties will follow 

The organisation of county councils, so to speak, in con- 
nection with the Folk-lore Society, is now engaging the 
attention of the Council. Steps are being taken to esta- 
blish such branches in Leicestershire and Rutland, and in 

The beginnings of a Folk-lore Library are now being 
collected together at the rooms of Mr. Milne, the secretary, 
who has kindly offered to house any contributions to 
such a library as may be forwarded by members of the 

Mrs. G. L. Gomme is continuing the collection of Feasten 
cakes which created such interest at the recent Congress, 
and would be glad of any information on the subject, which 
could be forwarded to her at i, Beverley Villas, Barnes 
Common, S.W. 

Communications for the next number of Folk-Lore 
should reach the office, 270, Strand, on or before May ist. 




\Engli5h books published in London, French hooks in Paris, 
unless otherwise mentioned.l 


Andrews (J. B.). Contes ligures, traditions de la Riviere. Paris, 

1892. Leroux. 
Benfey (T.). Kleine Scripten herausgegeben von H. Bezzenberger. 

Bnd. ii. [Contains Benfey's scattered articles on folk-tale re- 
search, but unfortunately not those contained in Orient und 

Occident. 1 
BoTHLiNGK (O.). F. Max Miiller als Mythendichter. 8vo. pp. 14 

St. Petersburg. 
D'AULNOY (Madame). Fairy Tales, with an Introduction by A. 

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Folk-lore Bibliography. 143 

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144 Folk-lore Bibliography. 

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Huser, Ein Schutzenfestbrauch. 


Vol. III.] JUNE, 1892. [No. II. 


THE earliest mention of the curious custom of the Sin- 
eater, formerly observed in Wales and the Welsh 
Marches at funerals, is found in TJie Reniaines of Goitilisinc 
and Jiidaisine^ a work of John Aubrey, which remained in 
manuscript for two hundred years, until it was for the first 
time issued by the Folk-lore Society ten or twelve years 
ago. The passages in question run as follows : 

Offertories at funeralls. 

These are mentioned in the Rubrick of y* ch. of Engl. Cofnon- 
Prayer-booke : but I never sawe it used, but once at Beaumaris, in 
Anglesey ; but it is used over all the Counties of North- Wales. 
But before when the corps is brought out of Doores, there is Cake 
& Cheese, and a new Bowie of Beere, and another of Milke 
with y' Anno Dni ingraved on it, & y' parties name deceased, 
w"*" one accepts of on the other side of y^ Corps ; & this Custome 
is used to this day, 1686, in North Wales. [. . . . 


It seems a remainder of this custom w'^'' lately obtained at 
Amersden, in the county of Oxford, where at the burial of every 
corps one Cake and one flaggon of Ale just after the interrment 
were brought to the minister in the Ch. porch. W. K.]^ 

^ Pp. 23-4. The passage in brackets is added by Dr. Kennett. 
VOL. in. L 

146 The Sin-Eater. 


In the County of Hereford was an old Custome at funeralls to 

< , [ poor people, who were to take upon them all the sinnes of 

the party deceased. One of them I remember lived in a Cottage 
on Rosse-high way. (He was a long, leane, ugly, lamentable poor 
raskal.) The manner was that when the Corps was brought out 
of the house and layd on the Biere ; a Loafe of bread was 
brought out, and delivered to the Sinne-eater over the corps, 
as also a Mazar-bowle of maple (Gossips bowle) full of beer, w"*" 
he was to drinke up, and sixpence in money, in consideration 
whereof he tooke upon him (ipso facto) all the Sinnes of the 
Defunct, and freed him (or her) from walking after they were 
dead. This custome alludes (methinkes) something to the Scape- 
goate in y* old La we. Leviticus, cap. xvi, verse 21, 22. "And 
Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goate and 
confesse over him all y*" iniquities of the children of Israel, and all 
their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head 
of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fitt 
man into the wildernesse. And the goat shall bear upon 
him all their iniquities, unto a land not inhabited: and he shall 
let the goat goe unto the wildernesse." This Custome (though 

rarely used in our dayes) yet by some people was \ . ,1 

even in the strictest time of y" Presbyterian goverment : as at 

Dynder, volens nolens the Parson of y* Parish, the < '^"''f^" I 
•^ ( relations J 

of a woman deceased there had this Ceremonie punctually per- 
formed according to her Will : and also the like was donne at y' 
City of Hereford in these times, when a woman kept many yeares 
before her death a Mazard-bowle for the Sinne-eater; and the 
like in other places in this Countie; as also in Brecon, e.g. at 
Llangors, where Mr. Gwin the minister about 1640 could no 
hinder y'^ performing of this ancient custome. I believe this 

custom was heretofore used over all Wales. 

In North-Wales the Sinne-eaters are frequently made use of; 

but there, insted of a Bowie of Beere, they have a bowle of 


The Sin- Eater. 147 

Methinkes, Doles to Poore people with money at Funeralls have 
some resemblance to that of y" Sinne-eater. Doles at Funeralls 
were continued at Gentlemens funeralls in the West of England 
till the Civil-warre. And so in Germany at rich mens funerals 
Doles are in use, and to every one a Quart of strong and good 
Beer. — Cramer.^ 

Ellis, who quotes Aubrey from the MS., also reprints 
from Iceland's Collectanea a letter from a Mr, Bagford 
giving a slightly varied account, also professedly derived 
from Aubrey. The letter is dated ist Feb. 17 14-5, and 
runs thus : 

"Within the memory of our Fathers, in Shropshire, in those 
villages adjoyning to Wales, when a person dyed, there was 
notice given to an old Sire, (for so they called him,) who pre- 
sently repaired to the place where the deceased lay, and stood 
before the door of the house, when some of the Family came out 
and furnished him with a Cricket, on which he sat down facing 
the door. Then they gave him a Groat, which he put in his 
pocket ; a Crust of Bread, which he eat ; and a full bowle of Ale, 
which he drank off at a draught. After this, he got up from the 
Cricket and pronounced, wdth a composed gesture, the ease and 
rest of the Soul departed, for which he would pawn his oivn Soul."'^ 

The only other mention of this custom of any import- 
ance is by the late Mr. Matthew Moggridge of Swansea, 
at a meeting of the Cambrian Archaeological Association 
held at Ludlow in 1852. His account was that "when a 
person died, the friends sent for the Sin-eater of the 
district, who on his arrival placed a plate of salt on the 
breast of the defunct, and upon the salt a piece of bread. 
He then muttered an incantation over the bread, which he 
finally ate, thereby eating up all the sins of the deceased. 
This done, he received his fee of 2s. 6d., and vanished as 
quickly as possible from the general gaze ; for, as it was 
believed that he really appropriated to his own use and 
behoof the sins of all those over whom he performed the 

^ Brand and Ellis, Observations on Pop. Ati/iquities, 11, 155. 

L 2 

148 The Sin- Eater. 

above ceremony, he was utterly detested in the neighbour- 
hood — regarded as a mere Pariah — as one irredeemably 
lost." Mr. Moggridge specified the neighbourhood of Llan- 
debie, about twelve or thirteen miles from Swansea, as a 
place where the custom had survived to within a recent 

No explanation of this strange custom has, so far as I 
know, been hitherto offered, beyond Aubrey's conjecture 
that it has some reference to the Hebrew Scape-goat. I 
propose briefly to compare it with one or two other cus- 
toms in this country and abroad, for the purpose if possible 
of tracing its origin. In doing so I will ask you to assume 
that, as is usual in traditional rites which have continued 
to modern times, we have in the custom described only a 
mutilated form of the original ceremony. If that ceremony 
was in ancient times at all widely distributed we shall 
probably find its remains in places far apart ; but we must 
not expect to find them all exactly alike. The portion of 
the ceremony, or the interpretation of it, which most 
forcibly strikes the popular imagination, and is conse- 
quently held most tenaciously in the popular memory, in 
one place is not always precisely that which is to be re- 
cognized at first sight elsewhere. We shall have to piece 
together the relics we find, first in order to show that they 
relate to the same rite, that they are in fact portions of the 
same pattern, though perhaps distorted or half obliterated, 
and secondly to discover what the original pattern was. 
Fortunately in the present case the pattern is simple, and 
the fragments, though few, are unmistakable in their 

At present we will note that the rite has to do with the 
disposal of the dead, that the eating of food placed upon 
the cofiin, or rather upon the body itself, is the substance 
of the rite, and that the belief connected with it is that by 
the act of eating some properties of the dead are taken 
over by the eater. With this general idea in our minds we 
may look for analogues. 

^ Archceologia Camdrefisis, N.S., iii (1852), 330. 

The Sin-Eater. 149 

In the Highlands of Bavaria we are told that when the 
corpse is placed upon the bier the room is carefully washed 
out and cleaned. It was formerly the custom for the 
housewife then to prepare the LeicJien-nudeln, which I may 
perhaps freely translate as Corpse-cakes. Having kneaded 
the dough, she placed it to rise on the dead body, which lay 
there enswathed in a linen shroud. When the dough had 
risen the cakes were baked for the expected guests. To 
the cakes so prepared the belief attached that they con- 
tained the virtues and advantages ( Vortheile) of the de- 
parted, and that thus the living strength of the deceased 
passed over by means of the corpse-cakes into the kinsmen 
who consumed them, and so was retained within the 

Here we find ourselves at an earlier stage in the disin- 
tegration of tradition than in the Welsh custom. The 
eating is not merely that of food placed upon the breast of 
the dead man, and so in some way symbolically identified 
with him. The dough in rising is believed actually to 
absorb his qualities, which are transmitted to those of his 
kin who partake of the cakes, and, consistently with the 
custom requiring the relatives to eat these cakes, that the 
qualities transferred are not evil but good ones : the living 
strength, the virtues and so on of the dead are retained 
within the kin. 

Something like this may have been the meaning of the 
Dyak funeral rite in which food is set before the dead ere 
the coffin is closed. It is allowed to stand for about an 
hour by the corpse and is then devoured by the nearest 
relations of the departed.^ So also when a Hungarian 
Gipsy dies he is carried out of the tent or hut. It is then 
the duty of the members of his family {Stammgenossen) to 
offer to the deceased gifts, especially food and drink of 

^ Dr. M. Hoefler of Toelz, in A7?i Urqiiel/, ii, loi. 
'^ F. Grabowsky in Internationales Archiv fiir Ethnographie^ ii, 

150 The Sin-Eater. 

various kinds which they lay beside the body, and after- 
wards themselves consume.^ 

In the Scottish Lowlands a curious, and apparently 
meaningless, ceremony used to take place about a 
hundred years ago on the occasion of a death. It is 
thus described : 

" When a body has been washed and laid out, one of the 
oldest women present must light a candle, and wave it three 
times around the corpse. Then she must measure three handfuls 
of common salt into an earthenware plate, and lay it on the 
breast. Lastly, she arranges three ' toom' or empty dishes on the 
hearth, as near as possible to the fire ; and all the attendants 
going out of the room return into it backwards, repeating this 
' rhyme of saining' : 

' Thrice the torchie, thrice the saltie. 
Thrice the dishies toom for " loffie" [/>., praise], 
These three times three ye must wave round 
The corpse until it sleep sound. 
Sleep sound and wake nane. 
Till to heaven the soul's gane. 
If ye want that soul to dee 

Fetch the torch frae th' Elleree [seer, or wizard] ; 
Gin ye want that soul to live, 
Between the dishes place a sieve. 
An' it sail have a fair, fair shrive.' 

This rite is called Dishaloof Sometimes, as is named in the 
verses, a sieve is placed between the dishes, and she who is so 
fortunate as to place her hand in it is held to do most for the 
soul. If all miss the sieve, it augurs ill for the departed. Mean- 
while all the windows in the house are opened, in order to give 
the soul free egress. . . In some of the western counties, however, 
the dishes are set upon a table or ' bunker' (as they call a long 
chest) close to the death-bed ; and it is actually said that while 
the attendants sit with their hands in the dishes they 'spae' or 
tell fortunes, sing songs or repeat rhymes, in the middle of which 

1 Von Wlislocki, Volksglaube und religioser Branch der Zigeu?ier., 

The Sin-Eater. 1 5 1 

the corpse, it is averred, has been known to rise frowning, and 
place its cold hand in one of the dishes, thus presaging death to 
her whose hand was in that dish already. The Dishaloof so far 
over, the company join hands and dance round the dishes, singing 
this burden : ' A dis, a dis, a dis, a green gris, a dis, a dis, a dis.' 
Bread, cheese, and spirits are then placed on the table, and, when 
the company have partaken of them, they are at liberty to go 

The explanation of this Scottish rite is not quite so easy 
as that of some others. But I think it will be agreed that 
it is hardly possible to assign an intelligible meaning to it 
if it be not of the same order of thought as that expressed 
in the Bavarian, and perhaps also in the Dyak, and Gipsy 
rites. The empty dishes placed on the hearth, or on a 
table close beside the corpse, the attendants sitting with 
their hands in them, the completion of the performance 
by eating and drinking of food set on the table in the very 
place where the dishes have been, all point to a ceremonial 
banquet in which the food has a mysterious connection 
with the dead. There is no doubt something which this 
supposition does not fully explain — the sieve, for example, 
and the words of the songs ; but we must remember that 
the dishes give their name to the rite, and are bound up 
with its essential elements, while there can be no doubt 
that it is in a state of decadence. Now when a ceremonial 
is decaying and passing gradually out of use, the non- 
essential portions first drop out and are replaced by others, 
or altogether omitted. This, therefore, is what we should 
have expected to occur to this Lowland rite. 

The Lowland, the Dyak, and the Gipsy rites, however, 
are all more archaic, and therefore more significant in form 
than the custom of doles of money and food at funerals, 
which was identified by Aubrey in the passages I have 
quoted, as well as by more recent writers, as a survival of 

"■ Henderson, Folk-lore of the Northern Counties, 53, quoting the 
Wilkie MSS. 

152 The Sin-Eater. 

the Sin-eater. That this identification is substantially 
correct will be seen, not only from the instances already 
given, but also from Pennant's statement that in Wales, 
" previous to a funeral, it was customary, when the corpse 
was brought out of the house and laid upon the bier, for 
the next of kin, be it widow, mother, sister, or daughter 
(for it must be a female), to give, over the coffin, a quantity 
of white loaves, in a great dish, and sometimes a cheese, 
with a piece of money stuck in it, to certain poor persons. 
After that, they present, in the same manner, a cup of 
drink, and require the person to drink a little of it im- 
mediately. When that is done, all present kneel down, 
and the minister, if present, says the Lord's Prayer ; after 
which they proceed with the corpse. . . To this hour the 
bier is carried by the next of kin ; a custom considered as 
the highest respect that filial piety can pay to the de- 

It is not at all uncommon, as folk-lore students are 
aware, that tribal, communal, and other feasts in the last 
stage of their decadence come to be represented by gifts of 
food to the poor. The significance of the custom as re- 
lated by Pennant is that the food and drink are given across 
the coffin, by the next of kin, and that if the recipients are 
not required to eat the bread on the spot, they have at least 
to drink of the liquor offered them. At funerals in Ireland 
a plate of snuff is placed upon the breast of the dead, or npon 
the coffin, and everyone who attends the funeral is ex- 
pected to take a pinch. This custom seems to be hardly 
yet extinct, as I have lately spoken to eye-witnesses of it 
during quite recent years. In South Wales a plate of salt 
is still often laid on the breast of the corpse (a custom once 
common in a much wider area) ; and "in a parish near 
Chepstow it was usual to make the figure of a cross on the 
salt, and cutting an apple or an orange into quarters, 
to put one piece at each termination of the lines" ; while 
in Pembrokeshire a lighted candle was stuck in the 

1 Pennant, Tour in Wales (London, 1784), ii, 338. 

The Sin- Eater. 153 

salt.^ At the opening of a coffin in St. Mary's Church, 
Leicester, not long ago there was found on the breast of the 
dead a plate made of tin which it was conjectured had con- 
tained salt.- In the neighbourhood of Salzwedel, in Altmark, 
a spoon and dish were, among other things, form.erly put 
into the coffin.^ It is impossible, however, to lay any stress 
on the last-mentioned custom, since salt is of frequent use 
against spirits and witches, and the articles buried with the 
dead may rather have been intended for use in the spirit- 
world than the relics of a funeral observance in the nature 
of a feast by the survivors. The occupant of the coffin at 
Leicester may have been a priest, for a paten of some 
inferior metal was commonly buried with a priest. 

But I ought not to leave quite unmentioned as 
vestiges of a feast the custom which obtained in Wales 
as well as in England of giving small sponge-cakes to the 
funeral guests. In Yorkshire and elsewhere the last part 
of the funeral entertainment before the procession started 
for the churchyard was to hand round " glasses of wine and 
small round cakes of the crisp sponge description, of which 
most of the guests partook." These cakes were called 
" Avril bread". The word avril is said to be derived from 
arval, succession-ale, heir-ale, the name of the feasts held 
by Icelandic heirs on succeeding to property.^ Many other 
survivals of funeral feasts might be cited ; but they would 
be irrelevant to my present purpose. I will only add that 
a foreigner, describing a nobleman's obsequies which he 
witnessed at Shrewsbury in the early years of King Charles 
II, states that the minister made a funeral oration in the 
chamber where the body lay, and " during the oration there 
stood upoji the coffiji a large pot of wine, out of which every 

^ Arch. Canibr.., N.S., iii, 330, 331. 

'^ Rev. des Trad. Pop.., vi, 485. 

^ Temme, Die Volkssagen der Altmark, 77. 

* Atkinson, Forty Years in a Moorland Pari sli, 227 ; Arch. Cambr., 
4th S., iii, 332 ; Gettt. Mag. Lib. {Man7ie7-s a?td Customs), 70 ; Cymrii 
Fu N. a?td Q., ii, 271, 275. See also Antii^iux and the Antiguans, ii, 

154 ^h£ Sin-Eater. 

one drank to the health of the deceased. This benig 
finished six men took up the Corps, and carried it on their 
shoulders to the church."^ 

The exhibition of cakes at the recent Folk-lore Con- 
gress included a Kolyva cake as made and used among 
the Greeks of Turkey. On the fortieth day after death a 
loaf is sent to each family of the friends of the deceased as 
a token of invitation to the commemorative service. The 
kolyva, a mixture of which the basis is boiled wheat, is 
blessed by the priests, and each person present takes a 
handful, saying, as he does so, "God rest him!" The 
ceremony is repeated the next day. The mourners then 
eat a meal together before proceeding to the cemetery 
with the priest to erect a tombstone over the grave. The 
poor of the neighbourhood, we are told, are in the evening 
regaled with a supper, during which their wishes for the 
soul of the departed are repeatedly expressed." This 
custom is recorded in Miss Garnett's book on the women 
of Turkey. More remarkable still is another custom which 
I do not find mentioned there, but of which she herself in- 
formed me. Cakes made of boiled wheat similar to the 
kolyva cakes, but without the elaborate ornamentation 
which covers them, are carried in the funeral procession — 
whether or not immediately behind the corpse Miss Gar- 
nett was not quite certain, though that is not, perhaps, very 
material. After the coffin has been put into the grave the 
cake is broken up and eaten by the mourners then and 
there above the tomb, each one of them pronouncing the 
words : " God rest him ! " just as the Sin-eater pronounced 
the ease and rest of the soul departed, and just as at the 
nobleman's funeral at Shrewsbury the guests drank to the 
health of the deceased." The eating of the kolyva on the 

^ Quoted, Brand and Ellis, ii, 153;/. 

2 Miss Garnett, The Womc7i of Turkey {The Christian IFomen), gg. 

^ When this paper was read to the Folk-lore Society, the Rev. Dr. 
Gaster, who was present, mentioned that he had often witnessed the 
ceremony described, and added the detail, of which I was unaware, 

The Sin- Eater. 155 

fortieth day seems to be a commemorative repetition of 
this ceremony. 

When we set these traditional observances side by side 
their meaning is transparent. The partaking of food and 
drink which have been placed upon, or near, the body, or 
the coffin of the deceased, or are delivered over the coffin 
to be consumed — an act, in the most elaborate of these 
rites, distinctly believed to convey to the persons who 
partake some at all events of the properties of the dead — 
can only be a relic of a savage feast where the meat con- 
sumed was the very body of the deceased kinsman. The 
solemn eating at the grave of a cake carried in the funeral 
procession is an analogous rite and points to an identical 
origin. The eating of the dead, however repulsive to us, is 
known by the testimony of ancient writers to have been 
the practice of many barbarous tribes ; and travellers have 
likewise found it among modern savages.^ In particular, 
Strabo records it of the ancient Irish, telling us that they 
considered it praiseworthy to devour their dead fathers.^ 
The inhabitants of Britain were at that time, as he ex- 
pressly says, more civilized than the Irish. They had 
perhaps already passed beyond the stage at which this rite, 
in its horrible literalness, was possible. But they came of 
the same stock as the Irish, in so far at least as they both 
were of Celtic blood ; and it is apposite to my argument to 
remind you that the latest anthropological investigations 
seem to point to a large proportion of Celtic blood also 
in the people of Upper Bavaria. The inference that the 
ancient cannibalism related only of the Irish was once 

that images of the dead were made upon the cakes. This detail, I 
venture to think, strengthens my argument, though it is fair to say 
that Dr. Gaster did not accept this view nor my conclusion. 

Mt is hardly necessary to refer to the very numerous cases re- 
corded by modern travellers. The latest I have met with is a dis- 
gusting custom among the Bangala, referred to by Dr. Schneider, Die 
Religion der afrika7iischert Natiirv'6lkei\ 135. 

^ Strabo, Geog.^ Bk. iv, c. 5, s. 4. 

156 The Sin- Eater. 

common to all these three peoples, among whom similar 
modern practices like thoseof the Sin-eater, the snuff-taking, 
and the corpse-cakes have been found, is well within the 
limits of induction. And it is confirmed by the customs, 
either still existent or quite recent, of the Greeks, the 
Scotch, and (though more doubtfully) of the Dyaks and 
the Gipsies, which appear to indicate the like practice 
among their respective ancestors. 

But the strongest corroboration of the correctness of 
my conclusion is found in a repulsive custom, to which my 
attention has been called by a friend since this paper was 
read to the Society. This custom is practised by a 
number of tribes inhabiting the valley of the Uaupes, 
a tributary of the Amazons. Their houses are generally 
built to accommodate the whole community ; and the 
dead are buried beneath the floor. About a month after 
the funeral, Dr. Wallace tells us, the survivors " disinter the 
corpse, which is then much decomposed, and put it in a 
great pan, or oven, over the fire, till all the volatile parts 
are driven off with a most horrible odour, leaving only 
a black carbonaceous mass, which is pounded into a fine 
powder, and mixed in several large couches (vats made of 
hollowed trees) of a fermented drink called caxiri : this is 
drunk by the assembled company till all is finished ; they 
believe that thus the virtues of the deceased will be trans- 
mitted to the drinkers."^ 

The reason here expressly assigned for the custon] is 
neither more nor less than that given by the Highlanders 
of Bavaria for making and eating the corpse-cakes. It is 
a general belief in the lower culture that food communi- 
cated its qualities to the eater. From the flesh of tigers 
courage and strength, speed from that of stags, timidity 
from that of hares, pass into those who eat them. The 
same order of thought leads the Taridnas and other tribes 
of the Uaupes to try to retain within the kindred the 

1 A. R. Wallace, LL.D., A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and 
Rio Negro^ 3rd ed. (1890), 346. 

The Sin-Eate7\ 157 

good qualities of a departed member by consuming his 
body powdered in drink. The Bavarian peasant has passed 
the stage whereat the coarse directness of this expedient 
can be tolerated. He tries to achieve the same result by 
the symbolical act of eating cakes baked of dough which 
has been put upon the breast of the dead man to rise, and 
has in rising absorbed his virtues. In the Sin-eater the 
same act is put to another, but strictly analogous, use in the 
absorption of the sins of the dead. Why it was supposed 
that in the one case good, and in the other evil, properties 
were communicated we do not know. Some variation in 
the view taken of the matter by the clergy may have led 
to the rite being considered disgraceful in Wales, and so 
may have rendered those who persisted in it the objects of 
persecution. Payment to undertake the odium, the con- 
sequent degradation as well of the rite as of the person 
who performed it, and the influence of the Biblical account 
of the Hebrew Scape-goat may have done the rest. The 
gifts of food to the poor, both in their intermediate form 
described by Pennant, and in their final form as mere 
doles, however, point to a different interpretation of the 
same original observance. They can hardly be derived 
from the Sin-eater ; their relation to it is not lineal but 
collateral. They are variants of the ceremony, and 
variants bearing the strongest testimony to the form and 
meaning of the parent type. 

E. Sidney Hartland. 



TAFITOFAU and Ongafau had a daughter Sina, who 
remained single. She was very beautiful, and the 
handsome young men built houses near Sina. Although 
there were so many handsome men Sina preferred Tingilau 
A visiting party of Talingamaivalu came, but they did not 
go to the house of Sina. He went to the house of Tafi- 
tofau and Ongafau, lest Sina should see that his body was 
full of pimples. His present of food was pigs and sharks. 
The parents of Sina favoured his suit because they were 
afraid lest they should be killed.- 

When Sina knew that her parents favoured Talingamai- 
valu she at once married Tingilau. Then the woman was 
taken away. She was not taken to the east or to the 
west, she was taken to Fiji. 

Talingamaivalu came and looked into Sina's house ; she 
was not there. He suspected that she had married. Then 
he rushed at once after Tafitofau and Ongafau to kill 
them. He asked, " Where is Sina ? " They answered, 
" My lord, she is married." 

Talingamaivalu went off and sought in the western 
islands, and he reached the eastern islands and then got to 
Fiji. He then tried to imitate the voice of her brother, but 
did not succeed. Then he tried to imitate the voice of her 
mother, and he succeeded. Then he awoke her, saying, 

1 A Samoan tale communicated to me by the Rev. G. Pratt, through 
Mr. John Fraser of Sydney. 

2 Because he was a g^od. — G. Pratt. 

Sanwan Tales. 159 

" Sina ! Alas for this ungrateful girl ! What about the 
chief. By-and-by we two shall be killed. Lift up the 
house-blinds that I may give you the fine mats of your 
dowry." Then Sina drew near, and Talingamaivalu took 
hold of her and threw her across his shoulder. Tingilau 
felt about, and Sina was not there. 

Then he rushed away westward ; she was not there. 
Again he rushed away eastward. He then went and 
launched his canoe, and sought her in the Samoan group. 
Then Tingilau sang mournfully : 

" Do you nininini^ the sea of Nini, 
The sea of Savaii leaped up, 
The rain fell, the wind blew. 
Report it to a god who has enemies. 
He stands outside in the cold, 
He urged to lift up the screens. 
Seize him and cook him for chiefs, 
That all Savaii may have a portion. 
Had but your praises been shouted, 

Sina, in the inland village." - 

Then sang mournfully the woman Puanatalai : 

"Tingilau, come inland here. 
Do not make a noise, but listen 
To the canoe at anchor in the lagoon. 
There is the clotted blood. 
It was the guess of Tingilaumaoto. 
Draw^ near, let us sit together. 
Tingilau, consider in your heart, 
Shall I go or shall I remain ? 

1 grieve, for I married in vain. 
The heart of Tingilau cannot rest." 

^ The meaning of this word is lost. — G. P. 

- When a chief married a virgin his young men shouted the fact 
through the village.— G. P. 

1 60 Samoan Tales. 

Then mournfully sang Tingilau : 

"Woman Puanatalai, 
It is said you are a princess. 
Causelessly do you act, 
Yield until you show respect, 
Until your party come to sit with you, 
Till I steer standing in my canoe 
As if I had come on a begging journey.^ 
It was the pursuit of Sinaitauanga. 
If she had had her praises shouted 
You would have been quiet in the quiet sea. 
The sea of the new moon rushes in 
Shooting by its means the man 
Talingamaivalu by name. 
Catch him and cook him and tie him up, 
Whether will all Samoa get a portion." 

Then mournfully sang Sinaleuuna (she is in love with 

" Man, there is a canoe anchored in the lagoon, 
It is the canoe of Tingilaumaolo. 
Come near, that we may eat cold food." 

Then Tingilau sang mournfully : 

" Have I come on a begging journey ? 
It is the pursuit of Sinaitauanga." 

Then answ^ered Sinaleuuna : 

" Do you go, for she has passed on. 
You will nananana in the sea of Nana, 
The sea of Aleipata rushes in. 
Make an apology to those ashore, 
To Puupu' and the Laulala,^ 
Fangapu and the Papaitufanga. 
Had your praises but have been shouted, 
O Sina, in the inland villages." 

1 People sometimes went out to beg for artificial hooks, paddles, or 
bowls.— G. P. 

2 Names of districts. 

Samoaii Tales. 1 6 1 

Then mournfully sang Sangaialemalama : 

" Do you depart hence, 
A little more and you would have found her." 

Then Tingilau went near to Tutuila and mournfully 

" You will ninanina the sea of Nina, 
The sea of Tutuila rushed in. 
Make apologies to those ashore, 
That is the country of Taema, 
And the country of Sinataevaeva, 
Shouting praises of my wife 
Who was taken off by Talingafaua." 

Then sang Taemala mournfully : 

" Do you depart hence, 
A little sooner and you would have found her." 

Then Tingilau sang mournfully : 

" O woman, thou Taema, 
When I sang, you sang, 
I did not follow up 
Your refusal to hear. 
Our names are proper, 
Sinatauanga and Tingilau." 

Then he came off Manua ; the King of Manua was seated 
there. He said, " Friend Tingilau, do you return ? This 
is the end of inhabited countries. If you go to the country 
of gods, then you will die." He replied : " Asking your 
presence. King of Manua ; with due respect to your speech, 
O King of Manua, permit me to travel over the sea of 
flying fish. Tingilau will perish in following his desire." 
" Go, then, now that intercession and advice have been 
offered."^ Then Tingilau went out into the great ocean, 

^ In the MS. this sentence immediately follows the last one, but 
as it seems to have been spoken by the king I have separated it. 
-J. A. 


i62 Samoan Tales. 

and he arrived at the Puangangana.^ Then Tingilau sang 
mournfully : 

" Begging pardon, begging pardon, 
Make apologies ashore to the Puangangana. 
By this time were shouted praises 
Of Sina in the inland villages." 

Then answered the Puangangana: " Tingilau, you are 
present ; Tingilau, you have come." Then the man sat still, 
[being] afraid. Tingilau sang mournfully : 

" The body of the pua, leaves of the pua, 
The trunk of the pua, the top of the pua. 
Be not angry, but let me ask 
Whether is Sina's praise shouted in the inland villages?" 

The pua answered : " Come here. What a chief this is to 
run into danger ! How do you know that there are trees 
which talk ? You have passed beyond the country of men, 
you have come to the country of gods." The pua then 
said : " You go, when I pass out of sight, then at once do 
you jump down into the bottom of your canoe and leave 
it with me whether you get to the country of Sinasengi, 
where you will find your enemy." 

Tingilau then went, and, when the pua was out of sight, 
he at once leaped down into the bottom of his canoe. He 
then prepared a fine mat, and was about to make the land 
vanish. Then he went to look ; there was no one but 
[something] like the body of a canoe and outrigger. " I will 
go", said he, " for my fine mat. There it is in the rubbish 
carried by the current." Then he sat with the fine mat. 
The canoe of Tingilau was then beached, and he jumped 
ashore, and clung to a cocoa-nut. Then he fell down and 
slept. The birds fluttered about. 

1 A large tree, Pua {Hernandia peltata), said to have the power ot 
speech {ngatigand) . Cf. Turner, Savioa, p. 72 ; at p. 258 it is a 
cocoa-nut tree that stands at the entrance to the lower regions. 

Samoan Tales. 163 

Then said Sinasengi : " Bother it ! what is the matter 
with the birds ? There are two kinds of birds in my 
country, the tarn and the heron." The woman went down 
to visit the birds. She looked ; the man was not^ ; he was 
burnt continually by the action of the sun at sea, there 
was no body to the man,^ he was [like] the skin of a 
paonga"'^ fruit. Then the woman Sinasengi fainted as if 
dead. She revived again, and she [said] : " Stop a bit till I 
startle him. If he is not startled he is a god ; if he is 
startled he is a man. Catch you ! " The man was startled, 
and said : " O lady, I was startled." Sinasengi said : " O 
chief, you debase yourself on the beach, and leave good 
mats and good houses and good cloth, and you debase 
yourself on this bad place." Tingilau said : " Isu^ e, sina 
sungalu, floating about I came and drew up my canoe in 
this place." 

They went up into the house. The woman went and 
cooked an oven of food. She baked taro {Arum esculen- 
timi) unscraped, and scraped taro ; she roasted a fowl un- 
plucked, and a plucked fowl ; she baked a pig unsinged 
and a pig singed. She opened the oven, and she laid out 
the fowl that was broiled with its feathers, and the taro that 
was baked with the skin. Tingilau called out and said : 
" Lady, things are not done like this to visitors in our 
country." Sinasengi then called aloud : " I abominate the 
people who have brought the wrong things to the chief" 
She went and took down the singed pig and the scraped 
taro. The man ate. 

The man married the woman and she had a child. 
After some days he walked around and mourned because 
he thought of his wife Sina. Sinasengi thought about 
Tingilau wandering about, and she went to her Punga- 

1 That is, he was so entirely changed from his former self — G. P. 

2 The name of a tree {Pandamcs odoraiissimus) from the leaves of 
which a house-mat is made. 

^ An apologetic deprecatory word after having come suddenly into 
the presence of chiefs. {Sam. Diet.) 

M 2 

1 64 Samoan Tales. 

vavalo} Punga-vavalo asked, " Why have you come ? " 
She said : " I have come because the conduct of my 
husband has changed towards me." Punga-vavalo said : 
" Did you think that Tingilau came \.o yon? He came for 
his wife who was brought away by Talingamaivalu." The 
woman came to Tingilau and said : " I know why you 
wander about ; it is for your wife. Had I known, you 
should have gone. But now go with some of my Punga- 
vavalo, by which you will catch your enemy." Then his 
crew embarked ; there were three with Tingilau, The 
Punga-vavalo said : " When we two say ' Dive ! ' then do 
you jump down. It is a difficult land in which Talinga- 
maivalu lives in Papatealalo."^ Punga-vavalo said : "Tin- 
gilau, jump ! " Tingilau jumped and dived down, and 
reached the land. Punga-vavalo said : " Do you ask of a 
lame man watching a grindstone the road to the country 
of Talingamaivalu. If he directs you wrongly, do you kill 
him ; then lift up the grindstone and you will see Talinga- 
maivalu sunning himself" 

The Punga-vavalo went to Sina and said : " We are 
come with Tungilau. When he comes, receive him with 
surprise, and say, ' [This is] my brother Pinono from 
Savaii.' " The men came, and Sina welcomed them with 
surprise, [exclaiming], " O Talingamaivalu, listen with your 
eight ears,^ while I explain to you this is my brother 
Pinono from Savaii." Talingamaivalu said, " My love to 
you." Then he went and made an oven of food, and sang : 

" If he eats the big tare 
Her male friend is her husband. 
If he eats the small taro 
Her male friend is her brother." 

He brought the food, and laid out the big taro. Tingilau 

^ " Prophesying coral." Punga ■=■ coral, vavalo = predicting. 
The name of two gods.^ — G. P. 
^ A place under the sea. — G. P. 
3 A reference to his name, talviga = ear, e valu = eight. 

Sainoan Tales. 165 

refused it. Talingamaivalu called out : " It is her brother." 
Sina said : "Talingamaivalu, this chief desires to eat of my 
plantation. It takes three months to reach it." Talinga 
maivalu replied : " Well, what about it ?" The woman said : 
" This chief has many gods. When you go, do not walk,. 
but slide along. When you pull up taro, do not pull it up 
with your hands, but pull it up with your toes. If you 
hunt a pig, hunt a wild shy pig. When you draw salt 
water, bale it up with a net. When you rub a light, rub it 
on a banana. When you climb a cocoa-nut, go up with 
your feet upwards." Talingamaivalu said : " Well, what 
about it ? The prohibitions of the gods of No." ^ 

Then he prepared the oven of food. He chased a pig and 
did not catch it ; he chased a fowl and did not catch it. 
Then Talingamaivalu grew angry. He prepared his oven 
of food. Sina and Tingilau ran away. They stretched 
out the mosquito-screen, and under it they placed the 
mallet for [preparing] native cloth and the kingfisher of 
Tutiula. Talingamaivalu went and said : "Woman Sina!" 
Sina did not answer. Then he went to awake her. She 
did not answer. He lifted up the screen, and the kingfisher 
jumped out and struck the eye of Talingamaivalu ; it was 
blinded. Again he lifted it, and again the kingfisher 
jumped up and struck the other eye and blinded it. 
Talingamaivalu cried out : " This woman shall not 
live." Talingamaivalu then threw himself down. The 
woman was not there. Then he bit the mallet and broke 
his teeth. The kingfisher- cried out : " Tingilau and Sina 
have run away." 

^ Abbreviation of Pinono. — G. P. 

^ The kingfisher was regarded as the incarnation of Sa-fu!u-sa (of 
the sacred feather) and of Taenia (gHttering black), both of them 
war gods. (Turner, Sa/noa, pp. 48, 54.) 

John Abercrombv. 


ALL over the world wherever Germans dwell, whether 
in their own land or in foreign countries, the 
Christmas-tree is for them the chief ornament and symbol 
of Christmas-time. Wherever you trace the origin of 
the Christmas-tree outside Germany, you will find that 
it has been introduced from the Fatherland. Up to the 
year 1840 Great Britain did not know it. It was the 
Prince Consort Albert of Sachsen-Coburg who brought it 
to the Court of St. James. From there it slowly found its 
way through the aristocracy and the wealthier merchant 
classes to the whole of the city of London. Nowadays the 
custom of having a Christmas-tree is very common all over 
England. In Scotland and Ireland few are to be found 
in families. In Scotland the tree plays its part only at 
children's parties or charitable festivities. But while in 
Germany the Christmas-tree is used entirely as a bright 
ornament, presents, often wrapped in paper, are hung on 
it in England, which spoil its appearance. In some parts 
the tree is so small that it is handed round after dinner, 
before the ladies retire, with all the presents hanging on it, 
and everyone takes off the gift intended for him. In 
Germany all the presents lie on the table, bright with the 
light from the many candles and the reflection of all the 
gold and silver tinsel which decorates the large Christmas- 

In France, especially Paris, the Christmas-tree has only 
been known for the last sixty years. In 1830, the Duches 
Helena of Orleans imported it from Germany. From the 

German Christmas and the Chrtstmas-Tree. 167 

Tuileries it has gradually spread over the whole French 
capital. The Empress Eugenie was very fond of it, and 
did a great deal to introduce the custom. Until now it 
has been always looked upon in France as entirely German 
and especially Alsatian — an opinion which is very nearly 

When, in i860, Christmas was celebrated for the first 
time in the German St. Joseph's School in the Vilette, the 
gentlemen who had arranged the fete went to every market 
to get a fir-tree. At last they succeeded in finding a very 
small one, about three feet high, which had been exposed 
for sale by some chance. 

In 1869 fir-trees could be got at most of the markets in 
Paris. In 1870 the German armies celebrated their Christ- 
mas in German fashion in France, and many bright lights 
shone forth on that Christmas Eve. To-day, Paris requires 
every year 40,000 Christmas-trees, one-fourth of which are 
used by German, old Alsatian, Austrian, and Swiss 

Contrary to the custom in Germany, where the tree is 
sawed off above the root, and fixed on a wooden cross 
painted green, or planted in a small garden, decorated 
with moss, the Frenchman takes the tree out with the 
roots, wraps straw around them, and thus puts it into the 
room, often planting it in the garden after it has done its 
duty as an ornament of Yuletide. 

To the Netherlands, Russia, especially St. Petersburg 
and Moscow — where, however, it is only the custom among 
the better classes— and to Italy, the Christmas-tree has also 
come from Germany. 

Milan, a semi-German town, cultivates the custom ex- 
tensively ; and in Rome and Naples the bright Christmas- 
tree can be seen illuminating the gloom of Christmas Eve in 
many other homes besides those of the German artists 
who have taken up their abode in the sunny south. In 
Hungary the custom first began in 1830, and it is still con- 
fined to the aristocracy and the Germans settled there 

1 68 German Christmas and the Christinas-Tree. 

In the beginning of this century Christmas-trees were 
unknown in Sweden, in the German sense at least. It was 
the custom there to place fir- or pine-trees in front of the 
houses. So, at any rate, Finn Magnusen reports, in his 
Lexicon Mythologicuin ; and he adds, that the Danes and 
Norwegians did the same, but inside the house. To the 
insular Swedes and the Russians around the Baltic coast, 
in Dago and Worms, the Christmas-tree had at that time 
already been introduced from Germany. The fir, decorated 
with nuts and apples, carried five candles on each branch. 
On the Swedish mainland it was the custom in some 
places for the peasants to go to a field where a solitary tree 
stood, to put fire to it, and then perform a dance around it 
amid shouts of joy. 

Everywhere where the Christmas-tree custom has been 
adopted we find that German emigrants, German sailors 
from merchant vessels, or German men-of-war, have first 
introduced it. 

It has taken the deepest root in the United States, where 
there is so much of the German element. There, nobody 
looks upon it any more as something especially German ; 
families of all nationalities have adopted the fairy-tree. 
Even the spirit of invention of the 19th century has got 
hold of it. Trees are made of moulded iron. Through the 
hollow trunk and branches gas-pipes are conducted, and 
instead of the modest light of the little wax candle, the 
glaring gas jet bursts forth from this artificial production 
of the ironfounder. 

The Christmas-tree and German Christmas are ideas 
closely connected in the mind of every non-German. 
Most Germans feel the same. A Christmas without a 
tree is no real Christmas. In the lonely garret of the old 
maid, to whom it brings back for a moment happy child- 
hood and hopeful youth ; in the squalid cellar of the poorest 
workman, with his too large family, everywhere we may 
find, be it ever so small, a specimen of this symbol of 
Christmas-time. At every Clwistmnrkt (Christmas-fair) 

German Christmas and the Christmas-Tree. 169 

are to be found tiny trees, with two or three bits of taper 
stuck on, and a few ornaments of coloured paper and tinsel, 
which are eagerly bought by those who cannot afford any- 
thing better. The lights of the Christmas-tree shine as far 
as the German tongue is spoken, from the east of Prussia 
to Alsatia, from the Baltic and the German Ocean to 
the south of the Danube. The custom has even been 
introduced into the Protestant church-service. In the 
mountainous tracts of Saxony, and in other districts, a 
Christmas-tree ablaze with lights is placed on the altar 
during the Christmas-service, which is celebrated at six 
o'clock on Christmas-morning. Everyone attending ser- 
vice brings a candle or small lanthorn, until, when the 
church is full, the whole interior is one flood of light. 

Wherever in modern German literature we find a de- 
scription of Christmas, everything centres around the 

In a small ballad Carl Bleibtreu has described the 
celebration of Christmas among the Germans of the 
Foreign Legion in the trenches before Sebastopol, during 
the Crimean war. The lights of the fir-tree blaze up, and 
their brightness becomes a target for the Russian artillery, 
so that in a few minutes all the merry warriors lie 
prostrated by the deadly shell. In Herrmann Bahr's Die 
neuen Menschen (The new Men), the Christmas-tree is used 
as a symbol of man's affection for the old customs of 
childhood. And in Gerhard Hauptmann's Fricdensfesi 
(The Festival of Peace) it is the token of peace, which 
two blessed women, mother and daughter, carry into a 
family which has been at war within itself and with the 

How typical the Christmas-tree is for German Christmas 
is illustrated by Sidney Whitman, who uses it in that sense, 
in his article on the German and the British workman. 

But, for all that, not every home, not every family in 
Germany knows it. In the German Empire we find large 
districts where it is not customary or even known. In 

1 70 German Christmas and the Christmas- Tree. 

some parts they celebrate St. Nicolas Eve, New Year's Eve, 
or the Three Kings, instead of the 24th of December, and 
have no tree on these days. 

Generally speaking, the custom of having a Christmas- 
tree is more common in the north of Germany, the part 
best known to English people, than in the south. Es- 
pecially in Catholic districts, it is supplanted by the garden, 
containing the groups of Jesus in the manger, the Virgin 
Mary, Joseph, with the ox and ass. We find this Christmas- 
garden, as it is called, both at home and in the churches. 
For all that, the Christmas-tree has long since broken 
through the barrier of different creeds, and many Jewish 
families have adopted it to celebrate Yuletide. 

In many homes, father or grandfather tell the children 
while sitting in the gloaming in the Christmas-room, filled 
with the pregnant odour of the fir-wood and wax-candles — 
a fragrance dear to every German — how it used to be when 
tJiey were children, and listened with a beating heart for 
the sound of the bell which would admit them to all the 
joys and splendour dreamt of for so long. And so people 
think that it has always been thus, and that there never 
was a time when no bright tree graced merry Christmas- 

The most popular idea nowadays is, that the custom is a 
remnant of the old tree-worship. Others believe it to be 
of Christian origin. The 24th of December is the day of 
Adam and Eve. From there to the tree bearing the fruit 
of knowledge it is not far. In the New Testament, Jesus 
is often called a branch of the root of David. These 
pictures were familiar to all classes in the Middle Ages. 
Some sought for the origin in the seven-branched candle- 
stick of the Jewish temple, but not one of these assump- 
tions is well founded. In legend we also find many tales 
relating to it. 

One Christmas Eve, Luther, so the story goes, was 
wandering across country. Clear and pure the night sky 
arched overhead, bright with thousands of stars. The 

German Christuias and the Christmas- Tree. 1 7 1 

picture impressed itself strongly on his mind, and when he 
came home, he immediately went out and cut a fir-tree in 
a neighbouring wood, and covering it with small candles, 
placed it in, the room, in order to give his little ones an idea 
of the nocturnal heavens, with their countless lights, from 
whence Jesus descended to the earth. But this legend is 
not yet a century old. It probably took its source from a 
picture by Schwerdtgeburth — " Luther taking Leave of his 
Family." Here the artist shows Luther's family around the 
Christmas-tree, but he has as little historical foundation for 
this as Scheffel has when he introduces a Christmas-tree 
into his Ekkehani in the tenth century. 

In Lindenau, a suburb of Leipsic, a legend is told that 
the Christmas-tree was introduced there during the Thirty 
Years' War from Sweden. In the autumn of 1632, the 
battle of LiJtzen had been fought, in which Gustavus 
Adolphus, King of Sweden, had been killed. For many 
months, wounded soldiers of the victorious Swedish army 
were quartered in the neighbourhood. In Lindenau there 
was a Swedish officer who had been shot through the 
hand, and who was nursed with great kindness by the 
people in the Protestant village. His wound healed 
quickly, and at Christmas-time he was well enough to 
leave ; but, before going back to his own country, he 
wanted to thank the people in some tangible way, and so 
he asked the clergyman to allow him to arrange a Christ- 
mas-festival as he used to know it in his own northern 
home. He got the permission, and there, for the first time, 
a fir-tree covered with lights was seen in the old church. 
This story, like many others, seems to have no historical 
foundation. It is simply a charming little legend. 

The Christmas-tree is certainly not as old as one gene- 
rally assumes. There are many descriptions of German 
Yuletide festivities during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and 
eighteenth centuries, in none of which it is mentioned. 
Some of these are very minute, and we have a right to 
conclude from this that, at that time, and in those places 

\^2 Gei'man Christmas and the Christmas- Tree. 

of which the description speaks, the Christmas-tree was 
unknown. The oldest record we have of a Christmas-tree 
dates from 1604, i" Strasburg, in Alsace. It is a descrip- 
tion, by a citizen of that town, of all the peculiar customs 
prevalent there at that time, to which he gave the title of 
Memorabilia quaedani Argentorati observata. After de- 
scribing how the church-service is conducted, he gives an 
account of a children's festival : " At Christmas-time each 
child is taught a hymn or a verse from the Bible, which the 
boys have to say on Christmas Day, and the girls on New 
Year's Day, after saying which each child receives one, two, 
three, or four farthings, and sometimes a small book. As a 
contrast to this, the writer later on describes the Christmas 
in the house of the citizen : 

" At Christmas, a fir-tree is put into the room, on which 
are hung roses made of coloured paper, apples, wafers, 
tinsel, sweetmeats, etc. Usually a square frame is made 
around it." It is impossible to decipher the writing after 
this, as the paper is quite torn. 

So in 1604 the Christmas-tree (but without candles) was 
already quite common in Strasburg. The next mention 
we find of the subject comes from the same place. In the 
years 1642-1646, Professor Dannhauer, D.D., in Strasburg, 
wrote a very learned book, entitled CatechismusmilcJi (The 
Milk of the Catechism). The professor was an orthodox 
Protestant ; the Church was to him everything, secular life 
nothing. He was indignant that the people of Strasburg 
celebrated Christmas in their home, instead of devoting all 
their time to religious rites, and so he says : " Among 
other trifles with which they commemorate Christmas-time 
often more than with the word of God, is the Christmas, 
or fir-tree, which is erected at home. It is hung with dolls 
and sweetmeats, and afterwards shaken and plundered. 
Whence this custom came I do not know ; it is child's- 
play. It would be much better to direct the children 
towards the spiritual tree of Jesus Christ." 

To all appearances the Christmas-tree was still a local 

Gernian Christmas and the Christmas-Tree, i "j^i 

custom in the extreme west of Germany in Alsace, perhaps 
only in Strasburg. The rest of the country did not know- 
it at that time, just as little as other lands. And it seems 
to have taken a long time to spread. More than two 
hundred years elapsed before it had penetrated to all parts 
of the Fatherland. For nearly a century we find no 
record of the Yule-tree. In the year 1737 it reappears, 
strange to say, on the eastern frontier of Germany, near 
where the Slavonic element begins. In 1737, a young 
doctor of law, Gottfried Kissling, from Zittau, became 
Lecturer in Wittenberg, the famous university where Luther 
and Melancthon had taught. As ^^ priinitics acadcmic(z'\ 
he wrote a very learned Latin dissertation, entitled About 
Christinas Presents. He is very wroth about all the 
malpractices of his native town at Christmas-time, and 
goes on to say : " If it is necessary that the giving of 
presents should be accompanied by certain ceremonies, I 
like the way best in which a lady who lived in the country 
used to arrange the matter, . . . On the evening preceding 
the birthday of our Lord, she placed as many small trees 
in her rooms as there were persons to whom she wanted to 
make presents. By the height, ornament, and arrangement 
everyone could see which tree was intended for him. As 
soon as the presents had been divided and arranged, and 
the candles lighted on the trees, all the people entered in 
succession, looked at the things, and took possession each 
of the tree and presents intended for him." 

Here we find the first mention of candles on the 
Christmas-tree. It is strange that each person got a sepa- 
rate tree ; nowadays there is only one tree for all. 

So far these are the only records which have come to 
light, but after the first half of the eighteenth century the 
reports multiply. The Christmas-tree penetrates into 
literature proper, A mention of it by the author Jung 
Stilling, seems to show that it was familiar to him in the 
days of his childhood. He was born in 1740, in Grund, in 
Nassau, and probably it must have been the custom there 

1 74 German Christmas and the Ch^'istmas- T7xe. 

at that time already. In his HcimweJi (Home Sickness), 
which was pubHshed for the first time in 1793, he says: 
" At the sound of these words I felt like the child listening 
to the apocryphal words of his mother on the day before 
Christmas ; it has a presentiment of something glorious, 
but does not understand anything until it awakens in the 
morning, and is conducted to the illuminated tree of life, 
with the gilded nuts and the little lambs, the figure of the 
child Jesus, dolls, and plates with apples and sweetmeats." 
That sounds like a recollection of childhood. 

Apart from this passage, it is Goethe who has first im- 
mortalised the Christmas-tree in German literature. In 
Goethe's birthplace, Frankfurt am Main, the Christmas- 
tree was unknown, and so young Goethe presumably passed 
his childhood without ever seeing one. For all that, the 
great poet got acquainted with the custom early in life, at 
the time when he was studying in Leipsic. According to 
Kunst und Leben (Art and Life), by Friedrich Forster, 
young Goethe saw the tree for the first time in 1765, in the 
house of Theodor Korner's grandmother, the wife of the 
engraver Stock, in Leipsic. The tree was there decorated 
with bonbons, and underneath were placed the manger with 
the child Jesus, made of sugar, and the Virgin Mary, also 
Joseph, and the ox and the ass. In front of it there stood 
a little table with brown gingerbread for the children. 

In another book we find even more particulars. In 
GoetJies GesprticJie (Goethe's Conversations), edited by 
Biedermann, the daughter of the house, who afterwards 
married the lawyer Korner, who became Schiller's most 
intimate friend, gives a description of her acquaintance 
with young Goethe in the year 1767: "Goethe and my 
father (the engraver Stock) got into such high spirits, that 
they arranged a Christmas-tree covered with sweetmeats, 
on Christmas Eve for Jolly." So it appears that at that 
time the Christmas-tree was looked upon as something 
suitable for a joke, a proof that it was not yet an esta- 
blished custom. Athough Goethe's letters of that period 

German ChrisUnas and the Christ mas-T7'ee. 175 

to his sister, which generally mention all the news, do not 
contain an allusion to this matter, we may look upon it as 
authentic, as it is vouched for by two witnesses. 

A few years later, 1770-71, Goethe stayed in Strasburg. 
If he had not yet known the Christmas-tree at that period, 
he would have been sure to have got acquainted with it 
here, in its old home. 

From the year 1785 we have written testimony that the 
custom was at that time still in use in Strasburg. 

In her Manoires the Baroness Oberkirch relates as 
follows : " Nous passames I'hiver a Strasbourg, et a 
r^poque de Noel nous allames, comme de coutume, au 
Christkindelsmarkt. Cette foire, qui est destinee aux 
enfants, se tient pendant la semaine qui precede Noel et 
dure jusqu'a minuit Le grand jour arrive, on pre- 
pare dans chaque maison le Tannenbaum, le sapin couvert 
de bougies et de bonbons, avec une grande illumination, on 
attend la visite du Christkindel (le petit Jesus) qui doit 
recompenser les bons petits enfants, mais on craint aussi le 
Hanstrapp, qui doit chercher et punir les enfants des- 
obeissants et mechants." After staying in Strasburg 
Goethe went to Wetzlar, where it seems the Christmas- 
tree was as yet unknown. This is evident from Goethe's 
letters to Kestner, 1772-73. 

In the year 1772 Goethe sent a parcel accompanied by a 
letter to his friend Kestner, the husband of Goethe's old 
love, Charlotte Buff, shortly before Christmas. In his 
writing he says, that if he were with them he would like to 
light many wax-tapers for the little boys (Lotte's brothers), 
so that it would be like a reflection of heaven in their little 
minds. But he mentions nothing of the Christmas-tree. 
So it appears that Goethe never saw Lotte under it, and it 
is purely a picture drawn from imagination which associated 
it with her in his work, Leiden des jungen WertJier, and by 
that introduced it for the first time into German Literature. 
Already Werther loves Lotte passionately, his nerves arc 
unstrung and his suicide is imminent. It is the evening of 

1/6 German Christmas and the Christmas-Tree. 

the 20th of December, the Sunday before Christmas, when 
Werther visits Lotte. " She was busy making some toys 
which she wished to give to her little brothers and sisters at 
Christmas. She talked of the delight the children would 
feel, and of the days when the unexpected opening of the 
door, and the sight of the tree ornamented with candles, 
sweets, and apples, made one feel all the joys of paradise. 
' You are,' said Lotte, trying to hide her confusion under a 
sweet smile, 'you are to get something too, if you are very 
good, a wax-taper and something else.' " During the first 
years of Goethe's stay in Weimar the custom does not 
seem to have been known there. There is no mention of 
it made anywhere, although we have many reminiscences of 
that time. 

Frau Rat, the poet's mother, used always to send him 
Frankfort marzipan cake, and he invariably gave some of 
it to his friend Frau von Stein. On the 30th December 
1 78 1 he writes to her : " I must send you a piece of holiday 
cake, in order to satisfy my longing to see you in some 

It was very rare for him to spend Christmas in Weimar 
itself; as soon as the snow was lying on the ground he 
wandered away to the hills. He has never again treated 
Christmas poetically after that first sketch, although he 
might have found a subject worthy of his muse in many 
Christmas rejoicings, which must have impressed them- 
selves on his mind, especially one in 1796 at Frau von 
Stein's, with all the attributes of Christmas-tree, candles, 
and presents. 

Schiller has never described any Christmas scenes in his 
works, although he loved the festival with its bright tree. 
At Christmas time in 1789, a hundred years ago, when he 
was already secretly betrothed to Lotte v. Lengefeld, who 
was at that time staying with her sister Caroline in 
Weimar, while her mother was in Rudolphstadt, he was 
invited to spend Christmas with a family of the name of 
Griesbach. He was at that time professor of history in 

German Christmas and the Christvias-Tree. 177 

Jena. He had already accepted the invitation, but he 
wrote again to say that he could not come, his beloved 
called him to Weimar. He sent a note to her, saying : 
" On Thursday I'll come to Weimar ; do not accept any 
engagements for Christmas Eve. I hope you will decorate 
a pretty tree for me, as you are the cause of my missing the 
one at Griesbach." He had just asked Frau von Lengefeld 
for the hand of her daughter. In Weimar he received 
the answer : " Yes, I will give you the best and dearest 
I still possess, my good Lottchen." A year later, the 
Christmas-tree shed its lustre in his own home, and he 
stood beneath it with his wife. 

In 1799 no Christmas-trees were to be found at the 
Christmas-fair in Leipsic, although the custom is men- 
tioned as far back as 1767. 

In 1807 Christmas-trees were to be had in Dresden at 
the time of the winter solstice, ornamented with gold tinsel, 
coloured bits of paper, gilded nuts, and candles. 

In Hamburg Christmas-trees were well known as early 
as 1796, and in 1805 Johann Peter Hebel dedicated a 
poem to the Yule-tree in his " Allemanic Poems". In 
Berlin it can be traced to 1780, but the pine or Scotch fir 
was used there, not the bright green fir common now. 

It was only by degrees that the fir imported from 
the Hartz supplemented the pine, and now we only find 
that gloomy tree in use in the poor eastern districts of 

At the beginning of the present century, the elite of 
Berlin did not practise the custom, as it was not fashionable 
among the French emigrants, and was looked upon as 
vulgar. Instead of that, according to Schleiermacher's 
Weihnachtsfeier (Christmas Celebration), they used to 
decorate the table on which the presents were laid with 
myrtle, amarynth, and ivy. About the year 1816, how- 
ever, we find that the Christmas-tree was adopted in all the 
homes by rich and poor in Berlin. 

In the fairy-tale of the Nutcradcer, by Fouque and 


178 German Christmas and the Christmas-Tree. 

Hoffmann, we have the Christmas-tree with its golden 
apples as the principal feature of the festival. After the 
beginning of the century, Prussians brought it to all 
parts of Germany, where it was till then unknown. It 
was especially by the frequent changes which took place 
with the frontiers of the German states, through the Congress 
of Vienna, that the custom was spread. Prussian officers 
and officials brought it to the west to Westphalia, and to 
the east to Dantzic. In Munich it was only introduced in 
1S30 by the Queen Caroline, the wife of Louis I of 
Bavaria. After that all the principal places in Germany 
accepted it. 

It lies in the nature of the Yule festival that the tree 
which graces it must be of the cuniferous tribe, for, at that 
time, all other trees in the forest are bare. But, for all 
that, it seems that in many places people tried, and often 
succeeded, in having trees with foliage and blossoms at 

We still possess an etching by Joseph Keller, entitled 
*' Christbescherens, oder der frohliche Morgen" (Christmas 
Gifts, or the Happy Morning), which must have been 
executed about the year 1790 at Nuremberg. This 
drawing shows us, in the corner of a room, a tree in the 
full splendour of its foliage, hung with ornaments just like 
those used to-day, and decorated with candles, two of 
which are borne by an angel suspended from the centre 
of the tree. This shows that foliage-trees must have been 
used formerly. 

There is a report from Nordlingen relating to about 
the same time and place. It is the autobiography of the 
painter, Albrecht Adam, who was born in Nordlingen in 
1786. He says : " In Nordlingen we don't have the dark 
fir-tree for Christmas ; instead of that a small cherry or 
apricot-tree is planted, months before, in a pot, and placed 
in the corner of the room. Generally these trees are 
covered with blossoms at Christmas-time, and fill up the 
whole corner of the room. This is looked upon as a great 

German Christmas and the Christmas- Tree. iy<^ 

ornament, which certainly adds much to the beauty of the 
Christmas-festival. One family vies with the other, and 
the one who has the finest blossoms on their tree is very 
proud of it." 

The custom of having these kinds of trees does not 
seem isolated. In Austrian Silesia, the peasant women to 
this day sally forth at twelve o'clock at night on St. 
Andrew's Day to pluck a branch of the apricot-tree, which 
is put in water so that it may flower at Christmas-time 
With this flowering branch they go to the Christmas Mass 
and it gives them the faculty of discerning all the witches 
whilst the clergyman is saying the blessing ; each witch is 
seen carrying a wooden pail on her head. In some parts 
of Austria, every member of the family cuts a branch of 
cherry, apricot, or pear-tree on the day of St. Barbara. 
Poor people offer them for sale under the name of " Bar- 
bara branches". In order that each may recognise their 
own branch, they are all marked, and then put into a dish 
with water, and placed on the stove. The water is renewed 
every second day. About Christmas-time, white blossoms 
burst forth, and the one whose branch blooms first or best 
may expect some good luck in the following year. In the 
Tyrol they even try to force a cherry-tree into blossom in 
the open air. The first Thursday in Advent they put lime 
into the ground underneath a cherry-tree, and then it 
flowers at Yuletide. Near Meran it is customary to put 
dry branches into water, so that they may flower at 

All these usages, just as the Christmas-tree with its 
artificial flowers and fruits, its candles and paper blossoms, 
its golden apples and nuts, have their origin in an ancient 
legend about the winter solstice, which is found among the 
East Teutonic tribes of Iceland, and also among the West 
Teutonic peoples — the Germans and the English — so it 
must be assumed to be an old tradition of both. 

There is no night in the year about which so much is 
told that is strange and wonderful as about the night from 

N 2 

1 80 Ge7^man Christmas and the Christ7?ias- Tree. 

the 24th to the 25th of December. In this night, according 
to popular beHef, the New Year begins, by the sun turning 
on its course. At the moment when the sun stands still 
(as the stone when thrown rests for an instant in mid-air), 
at that moment there is rent a split in time, through which 
eternity is seen with all its wonders. Mountains open, 
treasures rise to the surface of the earth, all the water which 
runs over the stones in one minute turns to wine, the Wild 
Huntsman rushes through the air, the dead arise and hold a 
midnight service, the beasts of the forest kneel down and 
pray, the horses in the stable receive the faculty of human 
speech for an hour, and the plant-world is endowed with 
life and blossoming powers for the same period. 

In Iceland there goes the tale that once upon a time at 
Modhrufell, in the Eyjafiord, a mountain-ash stood, which 
had sprung from the blood of two innocent persons who 
had been executed there. Every Christmas-night this 
tree was found covered with lights, which even the strongest 
gale could not extinguish. These lights were its wonderful 

In German folk-lore we find the legend about the 
blossoming-trees of Christmas amongst the peasantry as 
far back as the fifteenth century up to the present day. 
The oldest mention of it dates back to the year 1426. It 
is a letter of the Bishop of Bamberg, which is at present 
in the Court Library of Vienna. About 1430, a chronicle- 
writer of Nuremberg tells us the story with all its par- 
ticulars : " Not far from Nuremberg there stood a wonderful 
tree. Every year in the coldest season, in the night of 
Christ's birth, this tree put forth blossoms and apples, as 
thick as a man's thumb. At this time our native land is 
usually covered with deep snow for two months before and 
after, and cold winds sweep across it. Therefore it caused 
great wonderment that at this holy time the apples came 
forth ; so that several reliable people come from Nurem- 
berg and the neighbourhood, and watch throughout the 
night to see if it is true." A similar tree is found in a place 

German Christinas and the Christmas- Tree. 1 8 1 

near Bamberg. During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and 
eighteenth centuries we have many similar records in 

In England, too, the legend of the flowering tree of Yule- 
tide is known. Until the year 1753 the old reckoning ac- 
cording to the Julian calendar had been used, by which the 
New Year commenced on the 25th of March. As all other 
civilised states had already adopted the Gregorian calendar, 
the alteration of the New Year, and the change from the 
old to the new calendar, was accomplished without op- 
position on the part of the people in England. It was 
only in Buckinghamshire that a rebel rising threatened, 
and the cause of this was an old belief which was 
threatened by the new calendar. 

In the old English legend Joseph of Arimathaea plays 
a part. His figure is also connected with the story of the 
Holy Grail, which was widespread all through the Middle 
Ages. Of Joseph of Arimathaea it is told, that he once 
planted a staff on Christmas Eve which he had cut years 
ago from a hawthorn. It immediately took root and put 
forth leaves, and the next day was covered with blossoms. 
For many years this bush used to be in full bloom on 
Christmas night, and any cutting taken from it had the 
same miraculous power. Many of the bushes had withered 
and died in the course of centuries. Only one had sur- 
vived, which stood on a mound in the churchyard of the 
Abbey of Glastonbury. In the reign of Charles I, it was 
still the custom to have a stately procession on Christ- 
mas Day, and to bring a branch of Glastonbury thorn, 
plucked the preceding night and always in full bloom, to 
the King and Queen. At the time of the civil war between 
the King and Parliament this wonderful bush was burned 
during an attack on the abbey. But not even then was 
the miraculous plant quite exterminated : a cutting had 
been planted some time before in Quainton in Bucking- 
hamshire, and it also blossomed every Christmas night, 
although it was covered with blossoms in early summer 

1 82 German Christmas and the Christmas-Tree. 

like every other hawthorn-bush. During the night of the 
24th to 25th December, in the year 1753, New S., a 
large crowd had gathered with torches, candles, and Ian- 
thorns around the wonderful bush, anxious to behold the 
development of the white blossoms. Midnight struck, but 
the bush remained bleak and dead : no sign of life could be 
detected. After waiting in vain till dawn, the people dis- 
persed, but the excitement still continued. 

There was no doubting possible : the new Christmas Day 
was not the right one. The authorities had already decided 
to exterminate the bush, when lo and behold, on the 5th of 
January, the old Christmas Day, it stood in full bloom. 

This of course heightened popular feeling, and the clergy, 
seeing that stricter measures would only make matters 
worse, effected a compromise, and so both the old and the 
new Christmas Day were celebrated alike. 

At what date the hawthorn-bush at Quainton became 
aware of its chronological error, and changed its day of 
miraculous blossoming to suit the Gregorian calendar, is not. 

Alexander Tille. 


A Highland Version of the Tale of the 
" Three Precepts". 

THE following Highland version of the folk-tale of the 
"Three Precepts" was got by me in 1887 from Dr. 
Corbet, Beauly, and published in the original Gaelic in the 
Celtic Magazine for July of that year. As I see that Mr. 
Jacobs is unaware of the existence of this Gaelic rendering 
of the tale, from the fact of his not mentioning it in his 
notes to the " Tale of Ivan" in his excellent book of Celtic 
Fairy Tales, I here give an English literal translation of 

Dr. Corbet heard it nigh thirty years ago from the lips of 
a farm-hand of the name of MacCallum, resident then at 
Bogroy, near Inverness. An Aberdeen friend informed me 
that in his younger days — some two-score years ago — he 
remembered seeing the story printed on the old broad- 
sheets, like the story of "Long Pack" and others, and sold 
at feeing markets and by pedlars throughout the country. 
Whether this Aberdeenshire English version was exactly 
the same as the Gaelic one here translated, my friend could 
not distinctly vouch ; but the general outlines were cer- 
tainly the same. That the story of the " Three Precepts" 
was known among the Gaels in mediaeval times, is evi- 
denced by its being woven into the tale of the " Wander- 
ings of Ulysses", of which indeed it forms the last and 
principal text. Dr. Kuno Meyer has published a corrected 
text and translation of this Gaelic-Irish piecc,^ and he 

^ Merugiid Uilix Make Leirtis, The Irish Odyssey. D. Nutt, London, 

184 The Baker of Beaidy. 

points out in his preface how the author must have made 
use of the story of the Tres Sapiential, sold to Domitian, 
as related in the Gesta Roviajioniin. The Gesta story 
contains the " Three Precepts" exactly as in the Scottish 
Gaelic tale, but the incidents in proof of the " Precepts" are 
entirely different. For the " Precept" in regard to staying 
in the house of an ill-matched couple, the early Irish 
version substitutes the advice never to travel until the sun 
is up. In the Cornish tale of "Ivan" the incidents and 
advices are practically the same as in the Gaelic version 
here produced. I have to thank Mr. W. A. Clouston for 
some further notes which he sent me when the Gaelic 
version first appeared. Here follows the tale referred to. 

Alex. MacBain. 

At the time of the Battle of Culloden there lived in 
Beauly a widow who had an only son, whose name was 
Donald Fraser. He went along with the rest of the Clan 
Fraser to the battle. The rebels were defeated, and 
Donald fled to Beauly as fast as his legs could carry him. 
His poor mother was glad to see him back again unlamed, 
unwounded, sound and healthy, poor, hungry, and tired as 
he was. He, however, knew that his life would be en- 
dangered if he stayed in his mother's bothy for one night, 
as the red-coats were in pursuit of those that helped the 
Prince, though it was by the press-gang the most of the 
Frasers were compelled to join Lord Lovat, who was after- 
wards beheaded. He was thus a wanderer for three years, 
taking shelter in the hills, hollows, rocks, woods, and caves 
that lie between the Bannock Loch and Birds' Loch in the 
heights of Beauly. On a certain day at the end of three 
years, he says to his mother : " Woman, I feel tired of my 
life ; we are now reduced to poverty, and destitute of both 
meat and clothes. I will go and try if I can get work, come 
what may." 

The Baker of Beatily. 185 

"You will not go," says she, "till first you get your 
mother^s bannock and blessing." 

She made a Beltane bannock ready for him in the morn- 
ing, and thus with the bannock and his mother's blessing 
he set out for Inverness. There he got no work to do. 
From Inverness he proceeded to Nairn, where he got work. 
He took up his lodgings in the house of an old man who 
had an only daughter. By-and-by Donald began to court 
the girl and married her. On the night of the wedding 
whatever came into Donald's head, he got up, put on his 
clothes, went away and left her there. On he travelled till 
he arrived at Keith, where he tried to get work, but failed. 
Thence he proceeded to Huntly, but could find no work 
there. At last he was on the verge of starvation, for bread 
or drink he had not tasted since he had left Nairn. There 
was no alternative for him but to go and beg. He went 
into a baker's shop and said, " In the name of God, give 
me something to eat, for I am dying of hunger." 

" Bread or drink you will not get from me, you nasty 
beast," says the baker. " If I were giving to every one of 
your class that comes the way, I would not have much left 
to myself." 

" Oh," says poor Donald, " don't allow me to die of 
hunger ; give me food, and I will do anything you ask 

" What could you do ?" says the baker. 

" I can work," says Donald. 

"But," says the baker, "I don't want a workman just 
now, and I am sure you cannot bake." 

" But could I not learn ?" says Donald. 

" Undoubtedly you could learn," says the baker, " but it 
would take you seven years to do so." 

" Give me food," says Donald, " and to-morrow morning 
I'm your man." 

He served the baker for seven years, and at the end of 
the seven years, says the baker to Donald : " I am well 
pleased with you. You served your time honestly, and 

1 86 The Baker of Beauty. 

to-day I do not know where there is a better tradesman 
than you. I do not know how I will get on without you ;: 
but if you will stay with me for another seven years, I will 
give you this (mentioning the wages) for the past seven 
years and the seven to come." 

"To-morrow morning," says Donald, " I'm your man." 

He served the baker for the second seven years, and at 
the end of the seven years the same agreement was made 
between them as at the end of the first seven years, with 
this difference, however, that at the end of the seven years 
Donald was to receive double the wages he had got for the 
fourteen years he had already served. They agreed as 
usual, and honest Donald served the baker for twenty-one 
years. At the expiry of the twenty-one years, the baker 
says to Donald : " You are now at the end of three seven 
years, and if you will serve me for another period of seven 
years, I will give you as much pay for the seven as you 
have to get for the twenty-one that are past." 

" No, I will not stay for one year more," says Donald ; " I 
will go home and see my wife.'^ 

" Your wife ?" says the baker; " have you a wife ? You're 
a strange man ; you have been here for twenty-one years,. 
and no one ever heard you say you had a wife. But now, ' 
says the baker, " which would you rather : your three 
wages or three advices." 

" Oh," says Donald, " I cannot answer that question till 
I get the advice of a wiser man than myself ; but I will 
tell you in the morning." 

Donald came down early in the morning as he had 

" What now ?" asked the baker. " Which are you going^ 
to take — the three wages or the three advices ?" 

" The three advices," says Donald. 

" Well, the first advice is," says the baker : " Keep the 
proper roundabout road ; the second advice is : Do not 
stay in a house where there is a young, beautiful wife, with 
an old surly husband ; and the third advice is : Think 

The Baker of Beauly. 187 

thrice before you ever lift your hand to strike anyone. 
And here is money for you to take you home, and also 
three loaves of bread ; but remember that you will neither 
look at them nor take them asunder till you do so at your 
wife's knee, so that they may be the means of making 
peace between you, for you are so long away from her 
that it is hard to say whether she is alive or dead, or how 
will she welcome you." 

Donald at once set off for Nairn. His intention was to 
stay the first night at Keith, and next night he would be at 
home. On the road between Huntly and Keith he over- 
took a pedlar, who greeted him kindly, and asked him 
where he was going. Donald told him he was going to 
Keith. The pedlar said he was very glad, as he was going 
there too ; and the conversation they would have on the 
road would make them feel the journey shorter. 

Thus they went along till they came to a wood, when 
the pedlar said : " There is a short cut through this wood 
which will shorten our journey to Keith by three miles, 
besides taking the road." 

" Take it, then," says Donald, " Dear have I paid for 
the advice. I'll take the road." 

The pedlar took the short cut through the wood, but did 
not proceed far when Donald heard cries of " Murder ! 
Murder !" 

Off he set through the wood to help the pedlar, who was 
after being robbed by two robbers. 

" You now see the force of my advice," Donald says. 
" You are robbed, and you may be thankful you were not 
murdered, let alone the time we have lost. We will not 
reach Keith to-night." 

They came to a farmer's house at the roadside, and as it 
was late, and they were still a good way from Keith, they 
went in and asked if they could get lodgings for the night. 
This they got from the inmates, who were sitting round a 
good fire, in a frank and pleasant manner. They also got a 
good warming and plenty to eat. 

1 88 The Baker of Beauly. 

Donald saw the farmer's wife, a young and charming 
woman. An old, grey, blear-eyed, unkempt man came in 
after her. But when he had come in, Donald says to the 
pedlar, " I will not stay here any longer. Dear have I paid 
for the advice." 

" Surely you are not going to take the road at this time 
of night," says the pedlar ; " and if you won't stay in the 
house, you can sleep in the barn." 

Donald agreed to this proposal, and he went to sleep in 
the barn with his clothes on. He had a wisp of straw for 
a pillow, a wisp of straw for a bolster, a wisp of straw on 
both sides of him, and a wisp above him. He was so 
buried in straw that he had barely room to breathe. 

He had scarcely slept, when two persons came in, and 
sat on the straw right on the top of him. Uncom- 
fortable as he was, he dared not complain or open his 
mouth, but with a scissors he had in his pocket he cut off 
a small piece of the coat of the man that was sitting near 
his head, which was going into his mouth and eyes, and 
he put the piece he had cut off into his waistcoat-pocket. 
The man and woman, for such they happened to be, now 
began courting at the hardest. At last the woman said, 
" What a pity that old and nasty bodach (carl) wasn't 
dead. If you would place the razor on his neck, I would 
send it through his throat myself." 

This was what happened. When Donald came out of 
the barn in the morning, the poor pedlar was in the hands 
of the officers of the law. He was handcuffed, and was 
being taken away to Aberdeen on the charge of having 
murdered the farmer. In the morning the farmer was 
found dead with his throat cut. 

Donald followed them to Aberdeen ; the pedlar was 
taken before the Lords ; he was condemned, and the judge 
put on the black cap to pronounce the sentence of death. 
At this moment Donald gets up in court, and says : " My 
Lord, if you please, can a man that has not been summoned 
to court as a witness speak ?" 

The Baker of Beastly. 189 

" What have you to sa}' ?" asked his Lordship. 
Donald then related the circumstances of the barn, and 
requested that the young widow's sweetheart be brought 
into court in the clothes he wore on the night of the 
murder, and that he (Donald) could give proof that the 
young man was guilty and the pedlar innocent. 

The young man was taken into court, and when he was 
placed at the bar, Donald asked if there was a tailor in the 

" Yes," says a man, rising opposite him. 
" Try," says Donald to the tailor, " if there is a piece cut 
off from the skirt of his coat." 
" Yes," says the tailor. 

Thereupon Donald produced from his waistcoat-pocket 
the piece he had cut off from the man's coat, and giving it 
to the tailor, asked him if it suited the piece wanting in 
the coat. 

" Yes," says the tailor ; " it is the very piece that was cut 
off from the skirt of the coat." 

Donald then related the circumstances of the case a 
second time. The man and woman were both executed 
in Aberdeen for this murder, and the pedlar was free. 

Donald now set out for Nairn to visit his wife, but, before 
leaving the town, he bought a pistol, powder, and shot. 
" Who knows," says he, " what may happen to me before I 
reach my journey's end ?" 

At last the good man arrived at Nairn at night, but well 
did he find out the house of his loving wife. He opened 
the door, and upon going in, he at once knew his wife's 
voice as she and another man were quarrelling. He 
charged his pistol to shoot the man ; but here he remem- 
bered his third advice the baker gave him : " Think thrice 
before you lift your hand to strike any man." 

When the man stopped quarrelling, the woman began 
and said : " You young rascal, I have only yourself, and 
little pleasure have I ever got from you or your father 
before you. He left me the night we were married, and it 

I go The Baker of Beauty. 

IS not known whether he is dead or alive ; but he left you 
behind him to be a burden on me." 

When Donald heard this, he was thankful he did not 
shoot his son ; so he marched in where the pair were, took 
the loaves of white bread off his back, and broke them on 
his wife's knee. Out of the first loaf tumbled the wages 
of the first seven years ; out of the second, the wages of 
the second seven years, and out of the third the wages of 
the third seven years. Afterwards they lived together 
as happy as people could wish for. 


I have met with several popular European forms of this 
story, which is assuredly of Eastern extraction, and has, 
I daresay, been orally current in Gaelic " time out of 
mind". The Gaelic story could not have been taken from 
No. 103 of Swan's translation of the Anglo-Latin version 
of the Gesta Romanorum — which, b}- the \\'ay, does not 
occur in the old English translations of the Gesta edited 
by Sir F. Madden for the Roxburgh Club, and one edited 
by Mr. Herrtage for the Early English Text Society 
— since the incidents of the murder and the loaves are 
not found in the monkish tale, while they are at least in 
one European popular version besides the above. 

There is a story in the Turkish collection called Quirq 
Vazir Tarikhi (History of the Forty Vazirs), which in the 
opening bears some resemblance to the Gaelic tale. It is 
the Lady's eighteenth recital in my learned friend Mr. E. 
J. W. Gibb's complete English translation of that story- 
book, and relates how a young cobbler sees a darivesh pass 
by his stall one day, wearing " shocking bad" shoes. He 
gives the devotee food and repairs his shoes, and then tell- 
ing him that he is about to travel, requests the good man's 
counsel in return for his little services. The darivesh skives 

The Baker of Beatily. 1 9 1 

him these three bits of advice: (i) "Set not out on a 
journey till thou have found a good fellow-traveller ; for the 
Apostle of God [i.e., Mahommed] has said, ' The com- 
panion, then the road.' (2) Light not in a waterless 
place. (3) Enter great cities when the sun is rising." 

After a time the cobbler finds some suitable travelling 
companions, and they set out. One day, in the afternoon, 
they approach Aleppo, and the cobbler, remembering the 
third advice of the darivesh, refuses to accompany them into 
the city, but his companions go on, leaving him to shift for 
himself without the walls. The rest of the story is 
analogous to the tale of " Ghanim", the slave of love, in the 
Arabian Nights, and both have probably been derived 
from a tale in an old version of the story-book, entitled 
Kissa-i Chehdr Darivesh (Story of the Four Dervishes), 
written by Amir Khusrau, who died A.D. 1324, a Hindustani 
version of which, entitled Bagh BaJidr (Garden and 
Spring), was made early in the present century. 

It is very evident that the Turkish tale is a compound of 
a story of three maxims, and the Persian story from which 
the Arabian tale of "Ghanim" was also adapted ; and that the 
first part is imperfect, since we do not find that the hero 
profited by the first and second maxims of the darivesh, 
while in observing the third his life was not in danger. 
Moreover, we are not told that the hero's companions had 
•cause to regret entering the city. I conclude, therefore, 
that the Turkish compiler had a confused recollection of 
the story of the " Three Maxims", and prefixed as much of it 
as he knew to what is elsewhere a distinct story of a youth, 
outside a city after dark, discovering two men enter a ceme- 
tery carrying a great box between them ; his resuscitating an 
inanimate lady they had there buried ; his concealing her, 
and so on. I had almost omitted to mention that this tale 
forms one (or part of one) of the Persian tales of the 
" Thousand and One Days" {Hazdr u Yek Ru.z\ said to 
have been compiled by a darivesh called Mukhlis of 
Ispahan, a work which was partly done into French early 

192 The Bake}' of Beauly. 

in the last century, under the title of Les milk et un jours : 
Conies Pcrsans, by Petis de la Croix. 

To return to the Gesta version of the Gaelic story of 
"The Baker of Beauly", No. 103 of Swan's translations. 
Here a king buys of a merchant three maxims for a 
thousand florins: (i) "Whatever you do, do wisely and 
think of the consequences. (2) Never leave a highway 
for a by-way. (3) Do not be a guest in a house where 
the husband is old and the wife is young." By observing 
the first bit of advice the king saves his royal throat from 
being slit by a barber, who has been hired to do so by the 
prime minister. By observing the second and the third he 
also saves his life. 

In my Popular Tales and Fictions, vol. ii, p. 317 fif., I have 
adduced an earlier monkish version of the incident of the 
royal barber, as well as Arabian and Turkish variants, and 
a Kashmiri analogue, finally tracing it to an old Buddhist 
collection, and on p. 491 giving a version from Ceylon. 
Swan, in the notes to his rendering of the Gesta, cites from 
Petis de la Croix, Contes Turcs (a fourth of the Turkish 
" Forty Vazirs" done into French) the Ottoman version, 
where, however, the king gets but one maxim for his 
money : " Consider well before you do any deed" ; and I 
have no doubt that originally the story came to Europe in 
a form similar to that of the Gesta version, but with the 
incident relating to \hQ. first maxim as the last. 

For a full discussion of this story cycle, see MHusine, iii, 473-513; 
iv, 166 (the latter reference reproducing M. Rene Basset's elaborate 
variant list, Contes Berberes, pp. 226-28). 

W. A. Clouston. 




FOR more than two centuries past it has been well 
known to those Europeans who have resided for any 
length of time in Madagascar, that a somewhat elaborate 
system of divination, called Sikidy or Sikily, is practised 
by almost all the various tribes inhabiting the island. 
A good deal of information as to the modus operandi of 
this divination was given by Flacourt, the French governor 
of Fort Dauphin, in his fine work upon Madagascar pub- 
lished in 1 66 1. And in later histories, such as that of 
Ellis in 1838, other particulars are given, as well as dia- 
grams of the methods by which the diviners " worked the 
oracle". But within the last five or six years the subject 
has been investigated in a most complete manner by 
a learned Norwegian missionary, the Rev. Lars Dahle, and 
he has given the results of his inquiries in three articles 
contributed to successive numbers of a magazine which 
I have edited, in whole or in part, for several years past, 
the Aiitananarivo Annual. I propose, therefore, to give in 
this paper a summary of the information Mr, Dahle has 
obtained, omitting many of the minuter points of philo- 
logy, which would hardly prove interesting or serviceable 
in a paper like the present, Mr. Dahle has brought to his 
researches what no previous writer on the subject pos- 
sessed, viz., a very accurate knowledge of Arabic, as well 
as of the Semitic languages generally, and hence he has 
thrown a flood of light upon what had previously been 
hopelessly obscure. I can therefore lay claim to no original 
research at all in the particulars I have to lay before you ; 

194 Divination among the Malagasy. 

all I can do is to condense from a much fuller account 
by this eminent scholar, and to give the most interesting 
facts and results he has obtained in a briefer form and for 
a wider circle of readers ; and I shall not hesitate to 
quote very freely from Mr. Dahle's articles. 

One word more of introduction. The ancient religious 
system, or rather the religious beliefs and practices, of the 
Malagasy, had little to do with what we commonly under- 
stand by " idolatry". There was, primarily, a somewhat 
pure and lofty theism ; then a development of ancestor- 
worship, especially of the ancestors of the chiefs ; later on, 
a fetishism, or trust in charms — personal, family, and tribal, 
becoming in very recent times a kind of national idolatry, 
but without anything like temple or priestly caste, onl)-- 
the priesthood of the father, the chief, and then the sove- 
reign ; and there was also a firm trust in various ordeals 
for the detection of concealed crimes. But along with all 
of these, and in many respects much more widely spread 
and more influential than any of them, was the belief of the 
Malagasy in Vintana, fate or destiny, and in the sikidy, or 
practice of divination. The sikidy was, as Mr. Dahle's 
chief Malagasy informant — " professor extraordinarius", he 
calls him — said, " the Bible of our ancestors", and was 
regarded as a divinely-given means of obtaining help and 
guidance in all the events and circumstances of everyday 

Mr. Dahle, in his introductory paragraph to the first 
paper, thus humorously describes the native beliefs in the 
efficacy of divination : " If you want to look into the 
future, to detect secret enemies or dangers, to find out 
what is to be your lot of good or evil, the sikidy is the 
means of doing it. And the best of it is, that it does not, 
like the Fates or Farces of old, mercilessly leave you to 
your destiny, but kindly undertakes to avert the dreaded 
evils. If you are sick, the vipisikidy or diviner does not at all 
— like many of our modern doctors — treat you ' tenta- 
tively', which really means leaving you and nature to 

Diviiiatnn among the Malagasy. 195 

settle the matter between yourselves as best you can ; 
neither are they shallow-minded enough to treat the case 
merely 'symptomatically'. As diligent men, they set to 
work immediately, and, as truly scientific doctors, the}'- 
first try to find out the cause of the evil, and then the 
means of removing it. And if they can give you no other 
benefit in a desperate case, they will at least cheer up 
your spirits with a good assurance, generally terminating 
in a very emphatic phrase, to the effect that ' if you die, 
you shall be buried on the top of their head'. And even 
if your spirit has actually left you, they do not give you 
up in despair, as I shall have occasion to point out subse- 

" I am, however, reluctantly forced to admit that I am 
not able entirely to exculpate my friends from the accusa- 
tion that there is a slight tinge of medical heresy about 
them, inasmuch as their whole system oi faditra {i.e., ex- 
piatory offerings ox piaculd) seems to rest upon the homoeo- 
pathic principle, Siniilia siniilibus curantur ; for \h& faditra 
(i.e., the thing the diviner ordered to be thrown away to 
prevent or avert an evil) was generally something that 
in name, shape, or number, etc., was similar to the evil 
in question. For example, if the sikldy brought out maty 
roa (' two deaths'), two locusts should be killed and thrown 
away, to prevent the death of two men ; if it brought out 
niardry (' sick'), a piece of the tree called hdco inardry 
('sick-tree') should be made difdditrd'; and so on. 

"The people had a remarkable trust in their diviners 
and their art ; this appears even in the names by which 
they called them. In Imerina and Betsileo (the two most 
important central provinces of the island), it was quite 
common to style them simply Ny nidsina ('The sacred 
ones'), a term which, however, did not so much imply 
sanctity as strength and superhuman power. In the out- 
lying provinces — especially in the south and west — they 
are generally called ambidsa or ombidsy, as they were also 
called among the Antanosy at Fort Dauphin as early as 

196 Divination among the Malagasy. 

the time of Flacourt, and this term is the Arabic anbia^ 
' prophet'. 

" The word sikidy (probably from the Arabic sichr, 
' charm, incantation') has been generally translated ' divina- 
tion', but it has a somewhat wider sense, as it includes 
both the investigation of what is secret, and the art of 
finding out the remedy for it, if it proves to be of such 
a nature that a remedy is required ; but the second depends 
on the first. There are three kinds of sikidy which are 
employed almost exclusively in finding out what is secret : 
while the other kinds have more to do with remedying the 
evils. The first class, however, forms the sikidy par ex- 
cellence, manipulated according to a rather intricate sys- 
tem ; the second class depends upon it, and seems to be 
of a somewhat more arbitrary character." 

Before proceeding further, a word or two must be said 
as to the Malagasy notions of vlntana or fate, as the 
practice of the sikidy largely depends on these beliefs. 
The word vlntana Mr. Dahle believes to be an obsolete 
collateral form of the Malagasy word khitana, " a star" 
(Malayan bintang), and, in its restricted meaning, denotes 
the destiny of a man as depending on the times as declared 
by the stars at the time of birth, and also the fitness (or 
the reverse) of certain times for certain actions {eg., for 
a burial). The first of these was the vhitana proper ; the 
second was more accurately styled San-andro (literally, 
" the hours of the day", from the Arabic sda, " hour", but 
also used in a wider sense of " any moment". As might be 
inferred from its name (if the above explanation of it be 
correct), the vhitana in its turn rests upon astrology. The 
different days of the month, and the months throughout 
the year, are each supposed to be connected with different 
constellations. In previous articles in the Antananarivo 
Annual Mr. Dahle had shown that the native names of the 
months are all Arabic in origin, and are not, as might have 
been supposed, the Arabic names for the months, but the 
names of the twelve Signs of the Zodiac ; while the names 

Divination among the Malagasy. 197 

for the separate days of the months are the twenty-eight 
" Moon-stations" on which the Malagasy (originally Arabic) 
chronology and astrology depends. In the san-andro an 
important part is played by the " Seven Planets" of the 
ancients, that is, including the sun and moon, but excluding 
the earth and of course also the more distant planets, 
which were then not known at all. The astrologers had, 
however, a good deal to do outside the domain of astrology 
and fate, for they had not only to find out and, if necessary, 
counteract the influences of nature, but also those of bad 
spirits and bad men, as well as of the evil eye. 

Mr. Dahle divides his treatise into seven sections, a divi- 
sion which I shall follow in this paper, but condensing his 
information in many places. 

I. — The Awakening of the Sn<:iDY. The sikldy^ was 
generally manipulated with beans or certain seeds, especially 
those of the faiio tree, a species of acacia.^ When the 
inpisikidy had placed a heap of these seeds or beans 
before him and was about to begin, he inaugurated his 
proceedings with a solemn invocation, calling upon God 
to awaken nature and men, that these might awaken the 
sikldy to tell the truth. The following is the formula 
used : — 

" Awake, O God, to awaken the sun ! Awake, O sun, 
to awaken the cock ! Awake, O cock, to awaken mankind ! 
Awake, O mankind, to awaken the sikidy — not to tell lies, 
not to deceive, not to play tricks, not to talk nonsense, not 
to agree to anything indiscriminately ; but to search into 
the secret, to look into what is byond the hills and on the 
other side of the forest, to see what no human eye can see. 

" Wake up, for thou art from the long-haired Silamo 
(Moslem Arabs), from the high mountains, from Raborobo- 
aka and others" (here follow nine long names). " Awake ! 
for we have not got thee for nothing, thou ait dear and 
expensive. We have hired thee in exchange for a fat 
cow with a large hump, and for money on which there was 

^ Piptadenia chrysostachys. 

198 Divination among the Malagasy. 

no dust. Awake ! for thou art the trust of the sovereign 
and the judgment of the people. If thou art a sikidy that 
can tell, that can see, and does not only speak of the noise 
of the people, the hen killed by its owner, the cattle 
slaughtered in the market, the dust clinging to the feet 
{i.e., self-evident things), awake here on the mat ! 

" But if thou art a sikidy that does not see, a sikidy that 
agrees to everything indiscriminately, and makes the dead 
living and the living dead, then do not arise here on the 

It is evident that the sikidy was looked upon as the 
special means used by God for making known His will to 
men ; and it is at the same time characteristic enough that 
it was thought necessary to " awaken" God (cf i Kings 
xviii, 27). In the long list of peisons through whom the 
people are said to have got the sikidy are the Silamo 
(from " Islam"), chiefly Arabs, who are also called Karanyy 
" readers", i.e., those who read the Koran. Several other 
Arabic words occur in this invocation, as well as in the 
whole terminology connected with the sikidy, as will be 
noticed further on. Most of the names given above, in the 
list of " authorities" from whom the Malagasy are said to 
have received the practice of divination, are rather obscure. 
Among them is that of the " Vazlmba", who are supposed 
to be the aboriginal inhabitants of the island before the 
arrival of its present Malayo-Polynesian and Melanesian 
colonists. They may be mentioned either because the 
diviners were anxious to have the sikidy connected with 
everything that was mysterious and pointed back to the 
mythical days of old ; or, possibly, because the Vazimba 
were really the people who first received the sikidy from 
the Arabs, and that the other tribes in their turn got it 
from the Vazimba. 

It may be added that individual vipisikidy of any repute 
seem each to have had their own form of invocation, or 
at least made considerable variations in the wording of 
it, although its general bearing seems to have been very 
much the same. 

Divination among the Malagasy. 199 

II. — The Sixteen Figures of the Sikidy. Having- 
finished his invocation, the diviner began to work the 
sikidy (Ht. " to raise it up"), taking beans or fano seeds, 
and arranging them on a mat on the floor according to 
rules to be presently explained. These beans or seeds 
must be represented by dots. They were as follows : — 

Hova Names. 


Arabs of E. Africa. 


W Jamk (or Zomk) 

... Asombola 



:': Alkhizkny 

.. Alizkha 



•': Asoralkhy 

... Asoralahy 



.:. Votsira ( = Vontsira) 

. . Karija 

Tabkta horojy 


: Taraiky 

... Taraiky 



:'• Saka 

.. Alakaosy 



V Asoravkvy 

.. Adabkra 



) Alikisy 

.. Alikisy 



••'. Aditsimk (Aditsimay) 

.. Alatsimay 



V Kizo 

.. Alakarkbo 



•> Adikasajy 




.'■. Vknda mitskngana 

(= Mikarija) . 

.. AdMo 



•• Vknda miondrika 

(= Molah 


.. Alahotsy 



■.: Alokola 

.. Alikola 

Adalo (?) 


■\ Alaimora 

.. Alihimora 



■: Adibijkdy 

.. Alabikvo 


The names in the first row are those in use in the 
interior ; the order seems immaterial, but that here fol- 
lowed seems most systematic, commencing with the fullest 
form (ii), and taking away one bean (or dot) for each 
figure until only four ( : ) are left, and then adding one 
again to each, by which proceeding we get the first eight 
figures. The next eight are formed by placing twos and 
ones in various combinations. The theory of the whole is 
evidently that not more than eight beans can be used in 
any figure, and that all of the figures must contain four in 
length (or height), while there may be two or one in 
breadth. The names in the second and third columns 
were obtained from an Arab trader, and are, several of 

200 Divination among the Malagasy. 

them at least, easily recognisable as the Arabic names for 
several of the months, but for many centuries naturalised 
among the Malagasy ; and these, as already mentioned, are 
the Arabic names for the Signs of the Zodiac, while others 
seem to be those of the Moon-stations, Mr. Dahle has 
minutely examined the list of Hova names, some of which 
are Malagasy, but obscure in meaning, while most of them 
appear to be of Arabic origin, and several are also evi- 
dently derived from astrology ; among others, the con- 
stellations Virgo, Aries, Aquarius, Sagittarius, Pisces, and 
Capricornus seem to be denoted. 

III. — The Sixteen Columns of the Sikidy (literally, 
" The Sixteen Mothers of Sikidy"). To the sixteen figures, 
or various combinations of the beans or seeds by ones and 
twos in the sikidy, correspond the sixteen columns (called 
by Mr. Dahle "rubrics"), places, or rows, in which they are 
arranged in working the oracle ; one figure being placed 
in each column, not, however, that all the figures must 
necessarily occur. The same figure may occur more than 
once, and some of the sixteen figures may not occur at 
all in the sixteen columns, as that is purely a matter of 
chance. If the columns are arranged in the manner usual 
in the practice of sikidy, we get the combination of squares 
given on the next page. 

It will be seen at a glance, however, that we have 
got more than sixteen names here, although the rows or 
columns are really not more than twelve, corresponding 
probably to the twelve Signs of the Zodiac. If a skilful 
diviner is asked for Ny sikidy i6 reny, he will only enume- 
rate the names given in the first (top) row {Tali — Vbhitrd), 
the four to the right of it {Zatbvo — Fdhavdld),d.nd the eight 
below {Tt'dno — Fdhasizy), giving us the sixteen complete. 
The others seem to be considered as accessory and of 
secondary importance. Some of them are simply repeti- 
tions, with this difference, that they refer to things in 
another person's house, not in that of the inquirer for 
whom the sikidy operation in question is undertaken 

Divination among the Malagasy. 201 

Others are placed to the left side of the lower square, and 
others at the six corners. 

Mr. Dahle proceeds to investigate each of the thirty-four 
words shown in the diagram ; and points out that while 
the majority of them are Malagasy, about four or five are 
evidently Arabic. The Malagasy words are those in 
ordinary everyday use, as those for wealth, relations, 
village, youth, woman, enemy, house, road, inquirer, God, 

<p 11- 


Tsinin ny 






Fdha- .6/' 


Zatovo antrdno 

Manna, do. 

Vehivdvy, do 



1013 S C 

Arrangement of Columns in the Sik'niy Divination. 

diviner, wild-cat, dog, sheep, goat, fowl, much bloodshed, 
etc. Of the four or five derived from the Arabic, the first 
word. Tale, apparentl}' meaning "investigator" or "explorer", 
always represents in the sikidy the person or thing con- 
cerning whom (or which) the inquiry is made. 

In reading or examining the columns, the first four 
{Tale — Vbhiira) and the eight below {Trdno — FaJuisivy) 
are read from above downwards. The eight to the right 

202 Divination among the Malagasy. 

{Zatbvo — Firlariavajia) are read from right to left. The 
four to the left (^Kororbsy — Tsiniti ny velona) are read from 
left to right, while the names at the corners are read 

IV. — The Erecting of the Sikidy {i.e., the placing^ 
of the figures in the columns). So far, we have only seen 
the machinery, so to speak, with which the divination is 
worked ; now let us try to understand how the diviner pro- 
ceeded in order to gain the information desired in the great 
variety of inquiries made of him. In the diagram here 
given, all the columns are filled with figures, just as a veri- 
table mpisikidy would do, except that dots are used instead 
of beans or seeds. The rules for " erecting the sikidy" will 
now be given. 

1. The first four columns {Tale — Vbhztra) are filled with 
figures in the following manner. From the heap of beans 
before him the mpisikidy takes a handful at random, and 
from this handful he takes out two and two until he has 
either two or one left. If two are left, he puts two beans^ 
if one, one bean, into the first or upper square of Tale'. In 
the same manner he fills the remaining three, Harena^ 
Fdhatelo, and Vbhitra, square by square, from above down- 

2. When these four columns — one of which represents 
the person or thing regarding whom or which the sikidy is 
made — are filled in the manner described, the remaining 
eight are filled by a combination of these first four, or of 
others that have already been filled by a combination of 
these. This is done in such a manner that two figures are 
chosen and compared square by square from above down- 
wards. If this combination gives an odd number {i.e., if 
one of the two combined squares has one bean, and the 
other two), only one bean is put in the corresponding 
square of the new figure to be formed ; but if it gives an 
even number {i.e., if the two combined squares both contain 
one bean, or both two beans), two beans are put into the 
new figure. 

Divination among the Malagasy. 203 

3. These combinations are subjected to the following 
rules : 

(rt) Tale 2x^6. Harena {i.e., a combination of the two in 

the manner described) form Lalana. 
{b) Fahatelo and Vbhitra form Asorotany. 
{c) Lalana and Asorotany form Mpdnontdny. 
id) Zatbvo and Marina form Nla. 
(e) Vehivdvy and Fdhavdlo form Fdhasivy. 
(/) Nla and Fdhasivy form Mdsina. 
(g) Mdsina and Mpdnofitdny form Andrlamdnitra. 
(h) Andrlamdnitra and Tale form Trdno. 

A glance at the diagram here given will show that all the 
eight figures below have actually been formed according to 
these rules. If we, for instance, compare Tale ^x\6. Harena, 
from which Ldlanu is to be formed, we get dissimilar 
numbers all the way, as all the pairs of squares have one 
and two, and consequently Ldlana gets only one bean in 
all its squares. Exactly the same procedure — mutatis 
mutandis — takes place in the filling in of the remaining 
seven columns below. 

V. — The Working of the Sikidy. — When the sikldy 
is "erected" or arranged in the manner just described, the 
question arises : What is to be done with it ? How to 
work it so as to get an answer to your questions, a medicine 
for your sickness, or a charm against the evils of which you 
may be apprehensive, etc. ? 

Let it be remarked at the outset, that the sikldy pro- 
perly deals with questions put to it. To answer these is its 
proper function. But if you ask what is the root of an evil, 
or the means of removing or averting it, etc., the answer 
will of course point out to you the cure of your evils, as 
well, and so far, appear as ars medica. There are, however, 
kinds of sikldy in which no question is put, but the remedy 
for the evil is prescribed at once. But as these are rather 
different from the ordinary sikldy -t^xozq-ss, they will be 
noticed in a separate section. What concerns us now is, 

204 Divination among the Malagasy. 

the ordinary stkldy, the business of which is to give answers 
to our questions. 

The first thing to be done, after having " erected the 
sikidy\ is to see what figure we have got in the column 
named Aridriamajiitra (God); for, out of the sixteen figures, 
only half of them (Nos. i, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14) are con- 
sidered to "agree" with Andriammiitra. These are called 
the " Nobles" or " Kings" of the sikidy, whereas the re- 
maining eight are called its " Slaves". If any of these 
latter figures happen to get into the said column, the sikidy 
becomes invalid, and the whole has to be broken up and 
commenced anew ; for the sikidy has not done proper 
honour to God in putting a slave in His column, and can- 
not be expected to tell the truth in His name. 

This point, however, being successfully arranged, the 
next business is to choose one of the four first columns 
{Tale — Vbhitra) to represent the question, or, rather, the 
person or thing it refers to. As Tale is to represent 
everything that cannot be put under the headings " pro- 
perty", " relations", or " village", the choice cannot be very 
puzzling ; but this being settled, the proceedings branch out 
into the following parts, which Mr. Dahle terms : (a) The 
Sikidy of Identical Figures ; (b) The Sikidy of Different 
Figures ; and (c) The Sikidy of Combined Figures. 

A. — The Sikidy of Identical Figures. — Having settled 
which of the four first columns is to represent the question, 
the next thing is to examine which of the sixteen figures 
happens to be in the column representing it. This being 
found, we go on examining all the other figures except the 
others of the first four (for these have nothing to do with 
the answer), that is to say, those on the right side, those on 
the left, and those on the two corners to the left. 

If we, thus examining them, find that any of them is like 
the one representing the inquiry, this may or may not 
settle the question, or, in other words, give us the answer. 
This depends on the nature (name) of the column in which 
it is found. This Mr. Dahle illustrates thus : " If I expect 

Divination among the Malagasy. 205 

a ship, and am going to inquire about its coming by means 
of the sikidy, the column Harena (or property) will of course 
represent it. If in this column I find, for instance, the 
figure /«;;/« ( jj ), and on further examination find the same 
figure in the column Trdno (house), this gives me no 
answer, as there is no natural connection between the two 
conceptions. If, on the contrary, I find the same figure 
in the column called Ldlana (road), then of course I know 
that the ship is at any rate on the ivay. I have then got 
an answer to the chief question ; but there may still be 
good reasons for a sharp look-out, for there may be diffi- 
culties in its way. Suppose that I also find the same 
figure in the column named Fdhavdlo (enemy), my mind 
will immediately be filled with gloomy apprehensions of 
pirates! Not a bit more cheerful will be my prospects if I 
find the same figure under Ra be mandriaka (much blood- 
shed). But what a consolation, on the other hand, if the 
same figure reappears in the column Nla (food) ; for then 
I must certainly be a blockhead if I do not understand 
that, although the ship may have a long voyage, there is 
no scarcity of food on board ; and so on. It is easy 
enough to see that a man with much practice and a 
good deal of imagination could produce much ' informa- 
tion' in this manner ; and I suppose that in a good many 
cases the mpisikidy were able to find an answer already 
in this first act of their proceedings, even if the means 
of finding it might seem scanty enough to ordinary 

But there is much more still that may be done ; for, be- 
sides the answers available from the fact of the identity of 
the figure representing the question with one or more of 
those in the other columns, it is of great importance to find 
out whether any two or more of the other figures are alike, 
and in how many columns the same figure occurs in a 
sikidy. The detailed particulars given by Mr. Dahle on 
this point may be put for the sake of brevity into a tabular 
form : 

2o6 Divination among the Malagasy. 

Columns with same Figures. ^f^'\ }^ord for 
^ Lombination. 

1. FahasivyAx\A Mdsina 

2. ,, ,, Nia 

= Tsi-rbngatra 
= Mdti-rda 

3. FdhatHo ,, Hartna = Vahbaka 

4. Trdno ,, Mpdnontdny =. Tsindrildsy 
5- I. .> Ldla7ta = Sdmpona 

6. Andro ,, Asdrotdny = Ldhi-dntitra : 

7. Fdkasivy ,, Asdrotdny = Ravbakbny ■■ 

8. Vbhitra ,, Fdhatilo = Fotdan-tsi-mihdtra ■■ 

9. Ldlana ,, A^'ia 

=^ Fihi-tsi-rdso 


does not move or agitate, 
two deaths ; that is, two 

will die, but two locusts 

may be thrown away as 

a fdditra or piaculum. 
a crowd of people, 
enemy approaching, 
hindrances expected, 
old man ; that is, the sick 

will recover, and reach 

old age. 
a mouthful thrown out (?). 
the fixed time will not be 

: the troops will not 


The following five possibilities refer to somewhat dif- 
ferent cases, thus : 

10. If the figure Alokbla ( •';. ) occurs three times in different 
columns, three stones are to be thrown away as a faditra to avert 

11. If Vanda initsangana ( :■': ) occurs three times, the feathers of a 
white hen are to be a. fdditra. 

12. If Alaiinbra ( X ) occurs twice, it means that the son of a 
mighty man is likely to be a mighty man too. 

13. If Sdka ( V ) occurs in Trdno., and Vo>7/s)ra ( :■. ) in Tale, or 
Alaiinbra ( ."•.' ) in Trdno, and Adibijddy ( v ) in Tale, the case will 
follow the analogy of the one preceding it ; e.g., if my child, who was 
formerly ill, was cured, this one will be cured ; if it died, this one will 
die too. 

14. If a sikuiy happens to contain eight Von/slra ( j. ) they are 
called "the eight healthy men", and are considered an excellent 
remedy against disease, as will be shown later on. 

It is evident that many of these " meanings" can be con- 
strued into answers to questions, although the general 
tendency of many of them seems to be rather to point out 
the fdditra to be used against the evil. But it might 
happen that the figures were all unlike one another, at any 
rate that those which were like the one in the column re- 
presenting the question were so incongruous with it that 
even the most inventive imagination and the greatest 
acuteness, sharpened by long practice, would prove unequal 

Divination a7nong the Malagasy. 207 

to the task of construing it into a reasonable answer to the 
question. In such cases the mpisikidy was obliged to have 
recourse to other operations, viz., the Sik]dy tokana and 
the Lbfin-tsikidy , of which the first one is comparatively- 
simple, while the latter one was very complicated. Each 
of these will now be briefly explained. 

B. — The Sikidy of Unique Figures. — If it happens that 
any of the twelve principal columns {Tale — Vbhitra and 
Trdno — Fahashy) gets a figure which does not occur in 
any of the other columns, this is called Sikidy tokana, " a 
sikidy that stands alone"; and consequently there are 
twelve possible kinds of this species of sikidy. Often many 
of the columns may happen to have unique figures ; in 
the diagram, for instance, Mdsina, Asbrotdny, Trdno, and 
Tale have each one occurring in no other column. But it 
would be remarkable (although it is possible) if all the 
twelve columns got different figures, so that all the rules 
for sikidy tokana became applicable in the same sikidy. 

The twelve columns are enumerated in a certain order 
by the diviners. First com.QS A ndrlamdnitra {God), Xhen 
the four at the top of the diagram, and finally the seven 
remaining ones below. In all the twelve classes of sikidy 
tokana the meaning depends on which of the sixteen figures 
it is that occurs as unique in the column in question. In 
many cases only a few of them have any special meaning 
attached to them, as will appear from the following rules 
regarding each class : 

I. Unique Figures in the Column Andrlamdnitra. — As 
only eight of the figures can be placed in this column 
without making the whole sikidy invalid, as previously 
mentioned, we only get eight varieties : — 

(a) If figure 9 occurs, it denotes that a thing can be 
done seven times without any hindrance. 

{}j) If figure 7, you must throw away a cooking-pot 
full of rice, and you arc likely to get rich. 

{c) If figure 3, which is here called Mdhatsdngafia, is 

2o8 Divination among the Malagasy. 

taken {i.e., the beans composing it) and applied 
to a reed {vbloisdngana) of the same length 
as the man for whom the sikidy is worked, and 
this is thrown away, it will bring good luck. 

{d) If figure 14, it is an excellent charm against gun- 
shot {hdi-bdsy). 

(e) If figure 13, the beans composing it are taken 
and mixed with a herb called tdmbinbana ; the 
sick person licks this six times, and it is then 
put on the top of his head. 

(/) If figure 12 (here called Heloka, guilt), the six 
beans of the figure are placed on as many rice- 
husks, which are then thrown away as ?ifdditra. 

(^) If figure I, a tree called dndrarezina (a species 
of Trevid) is to be the fdditra. 

{h) If figure 5, a white hen and a tree called 
fbtsinanaJidry (" white one of the Creator") are 
to be ihe fdditra. 

2. Unique Figures in Tale. — This is the only column in 
which all the figures have a special meaning ; but as they 
are much in the same style as those already given under 
Andriamdnitra, it would be tedious to give them in detail. 
Mr. Dahle observes here : " I do not intend the reader to 
practise the sikidy (this secret I shall of course keep for 
my own use !), but only wish to give him an idea as to what 
it is." 

3. Unique Figures in the other Columns. — In the other 
fourteen columns the number of figures having special 
meanings varies from one to fourteen out of the sixteen 
possibilities ; but space and time do not allow any further 
details, especially as their general character is shown by 
the examples given under Andrlamdnitra. Most of them 
simply suggest an answer to a question, frequently also 
giving a remedy against the evil intimated by the answer. 
As a specimen, however, it may be mentioned that when 
the figure Sdka occurs singly in the column Trdno, it is 

Divination amonf^ the Malagasy. 209 

considered as an excellent remedy for sterility if the five 
beans of the figure are mixed with milk, which is then to 
be put into fourteen fragments of pumpkin shell, and 
given to fourteen children, who are then to put some 
rice into a pot, from which the sterile woman eats it. 
Many of the rules in this kind of sikidy refer to sterility, 
sickness, or death. 

Under this section of Unique Figures, Mr. Dahle describes 
two other kinds of sikidy which are closely connected with 
the preceding ones, and called respectively ( i ) " Sikidy 
mutually corresponding', and (2) ^'■Sikidy providing a sub- 
stitutory sacrifice'. 

1. In the first of these, when certain figures occur in 
certain columns, clods of earth squeezed out from under the 
feet must be thrown away as ^.faditra to prevent one's self 
being crushed ; while in other contingencies two hens are 
to be beaten against the ground to prevent evil. 

2. The second kind of sikidy just named is a more 
important operation, and seems chiefly to have had the 
office of intimating that some young man was in danger of 
dying ; and the rules accompanying it point out the means 
of averting the evil. If Alainibra is the unique figure in a 
sikidy, and happens to occur in the column FaJiavalo, this 
is cdXv^di Masoa7idro mandaloi^^ "OciQ^ passing sun"), intimating 
the danger of some man dying ; and the following is the 
procedure resorted to so as to avert the evil : A red cock 
is fetched and adorned with crocodiles' teeth and a piece of 
bark of the nato tree, which has been soaked in boiling 
water for a night. This cock is brought to a place to the 
east of the house a little before sunrise, and is put on a new 
mat on which no one has yet slept. The diviner who is to 
perform the act must wear a red Idmba (a garment very 
much like the Greek cpiblevia or himation and the Roman 
aviictus), and a piece of black cloth on the back, both new, 
and at any rate not sewn or mended. The man for whom 
the sikidy is worked must place himself on a similar mat 
in the house and wear a similar dress. As soon as the sun 

VOL. III. p 

2 1 o Divination among the Malagasy. 

rises the diviner cuts off the head of the cock, enters the 
house with the bloody knife in his hand, and touches with 
this the person for whom the sikidy is made. 

If Alaimbra comes into Tale and Adibijddy into Fdha- 
.swjy, or Adibijddy into Fdhasivy and Alaimbra into Tale, 
:it is called Lehi-henjana (" the strong one"), and the 
imeaning is that a son of young parents is likely to die 
\young, if some effective remedy is not resorted to. And 
ithis is the remedy : Two young bullocks' horns (one from 
•:the right and one from the left side of the head) are taken 
;and placed on the top of a piece of a tree called hdzo-bbka 
'{i.e., " the leprosy-tree"), which is then erected close to a 
river, so as to throw its shadow on the water, and a trench 
is made from the water up into the land. Then the man 
for whom the siktdy is worked enters into this trench, and 
through this into the water. Finally, an assistant takes the 
■stem of a banana- tree of the same length as the man for 
whom the sikidy is worked, puts it into the trench, and 
joins the diviner in offering a prayer that the banana-stem 
may be accepted as a substitute for the person, and that he 
may live long. About sunset the man is sprinkled with 
two kinds of consecrated water, and the proceedings are at 
an end. 

C. — The Sikidy of Combined Figures. — It may happen 
that neither of the two classes of divination already 
described gives any reasonable answer to the questions, 
and then this third kind {Lbji7i -sikidy) is the final resort. 
The general rules for this operation are the following : — 

1. The figures in any two columns of an ordinary sikidy 
(like the one given in the diagram) may be combined in the 
very same manner as that by which all the lower columns 
were filled from the four upper columns in it. 

2. These new figures must of course be like some of the 
sixteen figures already enumerated (see table, p. 199) ; 
but the columns they occupy get new names, and conse- 
quently give material for fresh answers. Their names do 
not however, depend on what figures come out, but from 

Divination among the Malagasy. 2 1 1 

what columns {i.e.^ from what combinations of columns) 
they have been derived. For instance, if the figures in 
the two columns Fdhasivy and Andrianimiitra in the 
diagram are combined square by square, the new figure 
would be an Adibijady ( v ), but this new column would 
always have the name Lbzabe (" great calamity"). Another 
combination would give the name to a new column called 
Resy ("conquered") ; and so on. 

3. But there are also other possible combinations, viz. : — 

{a) A part only of some columns may be combined 

with a part of other columns. 
{b) One of the columns in the diagram may be 

combined with one of the new ones. 
(<:) Two of the new columns may be combined with 

one another in the same manner. 

But these combinations are not done at random ; on the 
contrary, they are subjected to strict rules, stating clearly 
which two columns can give birth to such and such a new 
one. In this manner Mr. Dahle's native helper gets 81 new 
columns (besides those in the diagram), subjected to as 
many rules, and contributing materials for as many new 
answers to questions. To give these in full, with their 
various meanings, would occupy a considerable treatise, 
and the above may probably be considered intricate enough. 
This sikldy, says Mr. Dahle, reminds him of the Danish 
proverb, " Deceit is a science, said the Devil, when he gave 
lectures at Kiel." A long list of rules (23 in number) is 
given by native professors as to the proper means of obtain- 
m^ fdditra ox piacula for the different evils to be averted. 

VI. — Miscellaneous Sikidy. — In all the varieties of 
sikldy hitherto dealt with, the chief object in view has been 
to get an answer to questio7is, while it has been only a secon- 
dary and subordinate object to find out the 7'emedies against 
evils, that is, if the answer informed us that some evil might 
b-; apprehended. But now we come to some silddy prac- 
tices, the chief object of which was to remedy the evils, or 

p 2 

212 Divination amon^ the Malagasy. 

to procure a pi'opJiylactic against them. In other forms 
of this miscellaneous sikidy the object aimed at was to find 
times and directions when and where something was to be 
found, or was to take place. 

A. — Ody busy (charms against guns). — These must be of 
comparatively recent origin, as guns have not been known 
in Madagascar for more than three centuries, but it is pro- 
bable, from certain formulae still made use of, that they 
were anciently spear-charms. The following were the rules 
for obtaining such charms : — 

1. Such a sikidy must invariably be worked on the last 
one of the two days of each month which took their names 
from the month Addlo, because the object of the charm was 
to make the musket ball (or spear) manddlo {i.e., pass by, 
without hitting) the person for whom the sikidy was made. 
(Here was an instance of a kind of homoeopathic principle, 
of which Malagasy folk-lore and plant-lore and charms 
present innumerable examples.) 

2. The rules for erecting this sikidy were very elaborate, 
as the great object was to get one in which the figure Adit- 
sima (V) occurred in the column Andrlavidnitra (God), 
and in no other column. If this did not happen, the 
diviner had to erect the sikidy anew over and over again 
until it did occur. And as he must have seven such sikidy, 
it must have taken a very long time before the business 
was finished, if the arrangement was left to haphazard. 
But a good diviner was of course supposed to be inspired, 
and then he may have hit upon it at once. 

3. The seven beans were put into the object (in many 
parts of the island, a piece of bullock's horn) to be used as 
a charm, and this was worn on some part of the person, 
often bound round the temples. Mr. Dahle believes the 
word Aditsirnd to be a corruption of the Arabic al-Jiimd, 
"the protected one" ; and so possibly means "protection from 
God", reminding him of the Arabic saying : " Nobody is 
infallibly protected except God and His prophet" {i.e., 

Divination among the Malagasy. 213 

B. — Odim-barotra (trade-charms). — These were used to 
make trade successful. They were effected by erecting a 
sikidy in which there occurred eleven Adikasajy ( .;. ). The 
beans of these eleven identical figures were then applied to 
the things to be used as charms to make trade prosperous. 

C. — Odiin-pitla (love-charms). — These were prepared by 
erecting a siktdy in which the figure Vontsira ( j, ) occurred 
in the column Harena (and nowhere else), and the figure 
Kizo ( V ) in the column Nia (and nowhere else). The first 
of these was called Mdnty alio (" I am sweet "), and the 
second Kely vioinba ny ndhiny (" small, but sticks to what 
is intended"). These charms were also used as trade- 
charms, as the great object in view in trade also is to make 
the customers " love" (that is, like) the things sold. 

D. — General charms. — If a sikidy was erected in which the 
figure Vdnda mibndrika ( /' ) occurred only in the column 
Andrlamdnitra, this was a good general charm for every- 

E. — Fanmdri-lba{c\\dirms against vomiting). — The diviner 
arranged his beans so as to make a rough figure of a man. 
Then he gathered them together and mixed them with a 
decoction of two plants and made the patient drink the 

F. — Odin' ny blona tbJiina (charms against dislike to food). 
— Here is a useful prescription for those whose appetite is 
failing. The diviner arranges his beans so as to make four 
different figures. These are then mixed with water, which 
is drunk by the person in question, and the cure is complete. 
At any rate, says Mr. Dahle, the diviner did not, he believes, 
mention a single case in which it had failed ! 

G. — Fangaldn-kco (remedy for diseases caused by eating 
food in which there was a niatbatba, the spirit of a dead 
man) ; and 

H. — Fampodlan' dloka or ambirba (the bringing back a 
semi-departed spirit). — Time and space forbid that I should 
give in detail the strange mixture of chance and jugglery 
by which the diviners professed to be able to effect the 

214 Divination among the Malagasy. 

operations denoted in the names of these two species of 
divination. In the second of them not only were beans 
composing various sikidy used, but also a number of other 
objects were with them pounded in a mortar by the afflicted 
person, while an invocation was addressed to God. 

I. — Andron-tany (lit. "days of the land", but in the 
sense of the different quarters or directions of the compass, 
as expressed by the place in the house assigned to each 
day). — What is really meant by this somewhat indefinite 
heading is, the art of finding out in what direction you are 
to seek for a thing that is lost, stolen, or strayed, etc. And 
this is denoted by the sikidy bringing out a certain figure 
in a certain column, showing that the thing wanted was to 
be looked for in a certain direction. For in the old native 
houses, which are always built with the length running 
north and south, and the single door and window on the west 
side, the names of the twelve months are given to twelve 
points of the compass, four at the corners and two on each 
side. (See diagram given later on, under San-dndro, p. 222.) 
For instance, if the sikidy brought out a figure which 
pointed to the south-east, the diviner did not call it so, but 
said it pointed to Asorotany, i.e., the constellation Cancer 
and also the name of a Malagasy month, which, in the 
arrangement just mentioned, has its place assigned to it 
at the south-eastern corner of the house. 

J. — Andro fotsy (lit. "white days", i.e., the days on 
which something expected or sought for was to happen). — 
Suppose, says Mr. Dahle, I have lost a slave. It is of the 
utmost importance to me to know on what day I shall 
find him ; for then I do not trouble myself about searching 
for him before the day is come. Consequently I go to the 
diviner. He knows that certain combinations in certain 
columns denote the different days of the week ; and if, 
for instance, these columns prove to be Harhia and 
Fdhasivy, then he knovv^s that what he asks about will occur 
on Wednesday {Alarobld). And so with the other days of 
the week 

Divination among the Malagasy. 2 1 5 

Mr. Dahle remarks here : " It is easy to see that this was 
a very convenient way of saving much time and trouble. 
Suppose I expect a friend from Fianarantsoa on Monday,, 
but he may have postponed his departure from that place, 
or he may have been delayed on the road ; well, I go tO' 
the vipisikidy, and he tells me that he will not arrive before 
Saturday. Fancy now that I had not been prudent 
enough to do so ; what would have been the consequence ? 
To say nothing of other inconveniences, my wife would 
certainly have kept the dinner ready for him from noon 
to night every day from Monday to Saturday ; and if she 
had not been an angel — which, of course, she is — she would 
certainly have looked very cross when he at last appeared. 
What a blessing these mpisikidy must have been, especially 
in the good days of old, where there were no doctors and 
no telegraphs ! " 

It has frequently come before our notice in the pre- 
ceding sections, that all depended on what figures were 
placed in each column by the erecting of the sikldy. And 
as the first four columns were filled in a manner which 
seems to have depended entirely on haphazard, and the 
filling of the others depended on these four, we should 
conclude that nothing so far was arbitrary, and that the 
vipisikldy had no control over the form of the sikldy, nor 
could he decide beforehand what figures would occur in 
each column. " But", says Mr. Dahle, " I understand that 
sometimes {e.g., in producing love-charms, trade-charms,, 
etc.) he took the liberty of filling the first four columns 
with figures which he knew beforehand (from theory and 
experience) would, in the further procedure, produce 
exactly the figures he wanted, and in the columns he 
would want them, for the sikldy in question. How else 
could he have got a sikidy in which Adikasajy ( •;• ) occurred 
eleven times ? or in which Vontslra ( :_': ) occurred eight 
times? or in which Vontslra came into Harcna, and 
Kho ( V ) into Nla, and nowhere else ? I believe he 
would often have had to erect his sikldy some thousand 

2i6 Divination among the Malagasy. 

times before that could 'happen', if he did not 'make it 
happen' in the manner intimated above. No doubt he 
generally began working on the haphazard principle ; but 
after having destroyed his sikidy several times and begun 
anew — just sufficient to make his spectators understand 
that it was a very serious affair — he had resort to artificial 
means, and made it succeed. I fancy this was the general 
practice in producing the charms described above," 

Mr. Dahle thinks that the practice of sikidy among the 
coast tribes is not so fully developed as that in use in the 
interior of Madagascar, except, possibly, in the district of 
Matitanana (S.E. coast), for here there was an ancient 
Arab colony, and a great many Arabic customs have 
been retained by the Antaimoro, as well as by the 
Antanosy, further south towards Fort Dauphin, where 
Flacourt was governor. 

The Betsimisaraka have, besides the systematic kind of 
sikidy already described {Sikidy aldnana), at least six 
other kinds. These are said to be much simpler than the 
ordinary kind of divination ; one, for instance, has only 
two columns or rows ; another kind, also with two columns, 
is worked by using in some cases three beans, as well as 
one or two. Other kinds, although styled Sikidy kofafa 
or vero, can hardly be properly called sikidy at all. The 
procedure is simply the following : You take an indefinite 
number of kofafa or vero {kofafa^ a broom made of grass 
stalks, vero, a tall grass), and you then take out two and 
two until you have only one or two left. But you must 
have settled in your own mind at the outset whether 
one left shall mean good luck, and two bad luck, or vice 
versa. A similar practice is, we know, found among 
Europeans also, but only as an amusement. 

There is, says Mr. Dahle, another kind of sikidy (if we 
like to call it so), which, I have been told, is practised by 
an old woman in Antananarivo. Something had been 
stolen and nobody knew the thief, but they suspected 
he was to be found among the servants. So the old 

Divination among the Malagasy. 2 1 7 

woman said : " Look here, I will show you who has stolen 
it. Let each of you bring me a little piece of wood." 
This being done, she cut all the pieces exactly the same 
length, gave them back to the people, and said : " After a 
little while, you must all bring me your pieces, and you 
will see that the one belonging to the thief will have 
becom.e a little longer than the rest." But when they 
brought their pieces, lo ! one of them had become a little 
shorter than the rest ; for the man who was conscious of 
being guilty had thought it best to secure himself by 
cutting off a little of his piece, which was exactly what 
the sly old woman had calculated would take place. So 
the thief was found out. This was smartly done, but it 
can hardly be a common practice, for, if so, it would 
become known, and consequently be useless.^ For ordi- 
nary cases of this kind the Ati-pdko, so much in use here, 
would work better. 

The Att-pdko, here mentioned by Mr. Dahle, is thus 
described in the Malagasy-English Dictionary : " A mode 
of recovering stolen property without detecting the thief; 
all the servants or employees are required to bring some- 
thing, as a small bundle of grass, etc., and to put it into a 
general heap. This affords an opportunity to the thief of 
secretly returning the thing stolen." 

VII. — We now come to the last division of our subject, 
viz., that of ViNTANA and San-ANDRO, or, as Mr. Dahle 
thinks this section might be termed, (i) Zodiacal and 
Liinary Vlntana, and (2) Planetary Vhitana. 

A. — What, then, is vlntana ? If a man was ill, people 
often said, " Perhaps the vlntana of his son is too strong 
for him, or he has become subject to some misfortune," so 
they said, " Vintany izdny angdhd' (" Perhaps that is his 
vlntana'). Or perhaps he was perpetually unsuccessful in 
business, and they said, '' Olona rat sy vlntana izchiy' ("That 

^ A similar practice is found among Oriental peoples; see an 
exactly parallel account to the above in Rev. Dr. Thomson's The 
Land and ike Book, 1883 ed., p. 153. 

2i8 Divination among the Malagasy. 

man must have a bad vlntana'). Even immorality {^.g.y 
an unmarried woman becoming pregnant) was excused 
by the remark, " Vintany Jiiany angaha izany" (" Perhaps 
that is her vlntana''), meaning that there was no help- 
ing it. 

Now what does this all mean ? Vintana seems like the 
fatum of the Greeks and Romans, an invisible power that 
made itself felt always and everywhere. The following 
views seem to be implied in the Malagasy ideas of it. 

1. Earth is not governed by itself, but by heaven. Not 
only is the succession of day and night settled by the 
most glorious heavenly bodies, the sun and the moon, but 
the fitness or unfitness of times and seasons for various 
things to be done, as well as the destiny of man himself, 
depends upon the heavenly bodies. 

2. As far as mankind is concerned, the stars forming 
the constellations of the Zodiac are all-important. Their 
influence is manifested in two respects : they decide the 
destiny of a man, and also the fitness or otherwise of 
times and seasons. 

3. The destiny of a man (his vintami) depends on what 
day he was born (partly also on what time of the day), or, 
rather, on what constellation of the Zodiac governed the 
day of his birth. It was therefore incumbent upon the 
nipanintana (those who dealt with the vintand)^ or the 
7;//>rt;2(i/?^r6» (day-makers or declarers), who were also diviners,, 
to inquire about the day or time of the day of a child's 
birth in order to make out its vintana, i.e., under what 
constellation it had been born, and what influence this 
would have on its destiny. 

4. As the names of the constellations of the Zodiac 
also became the names of the months, and of the days 
of the month (at least in the interior provinces), it is not 
clear what influence was attributed to the moon ; but that 
it was not considered to be without some influence appears 
from the following facts : — {a) Although the days of the 
months had seemingly borrowed their names from the 

Divination among the Malagasy. 219 

constellations of the Zodiac, they really represented the 
28 " Moon-stations" of the Arabs. In Flacourt's time (230 
years ago) these were still retained on the south-east coast/ 
but in the interior of Madagascar they have been super- 
seded by a somewhat simplified nomenclature, that is, by 
simply calling them first and second, or first, second, and 
third (or equivalent names), as the case may be, of each 
month, Alahamady, Adaoro, and the rest.^ {b) The 
Malagasy year was a lunar one (345 days). And (<:) both 
the sun and the moon take their place as governors of the 
days of the week. 

5. Besides the division of the year into months, the 
Malagasy have from time immemorial known a hebdomadal 
unit, the week, the days of which have Arabic names. 
These days were thought to be under the special influence 
of the " Seven Planets" {i.e., what were by the ancients so 
called, viz., the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, 
Venus, and Saturn), as will be noticed presently under San- 

" It is easy to see", says Mr. Dahle, " that the whole life 
of a Malagasy would be thought to be under the influence 

1 Here, for example, are the three Moon-stations in Alkhamkdy : 
(i) As-sharatani, (2) Al-butkina, (3) Az-zurayya, or names of the first 
three days in every month. 

2 The following are the Malagasy month-names, with their Arabic 
derivations and equivalent Zodiac signs : — 



Zodiac Signs. 














11 = 











Leo major. 





Spica in Virgo, which constellation 
it represents here. 















Sagittarius and arcus. 
















2 20 Divination among the Malagasy. 

of these heavenly bodies, and consequently at the mercy 
of those who are supposed to understand these often very 
intricate affairs. People are generally under the spell of 
those who know their destiny beforehand (while they do 
not know it themselves), who have the power of remedying 
the evils of it, and are able to tell them both wJiat they 
ought to do, and wJien they should do it. When we 
remember the great influence that astrologers had over 
emperors, kings, and princes during the Middle Ages, and 
even far into the 17th century, we can easily understand 
what powers they must have had (and still have) in a 
country like Madagascar." 

With regard to lucky and unlucky days, the following 
remarks may be made : 

1. Although the different months were thought to 
have their peculiar character (according to the constel- 
lations they were named from) and their special piacula 
and offerings, etc., it does not appear that one month was 
considered more unlucky than another. The difference 
in this respect was a difference between the different 
days of the month; which, it must be remembered, were 
named after the month-names also, eight having two, and 
four three, days respectively allotted to each, as ist, 2nd, 
and 3rd of Alahamady; ist and 2nd of Adaoro; and so 
on, but each of the twenty-eight being also called by the 
names of the Manazil-ul-kaniari , or moon-stations. 

2. The characters of the days evidently did not depend 
so much on from what month-name it took, as on what 
moon-station it represented. Therefore we often find two 
successive days with the same name common to both, of 
which one was considered good, the other bad. E.g., the 
1st and 2nd of Asorotany were good, and were, and are 
still, favourite days for fdviadlJiana (the ceremony of 
removing corpses from an old family grave to a new one) ; 
but the 3rd day was considered bad. 

3. Some days were considered absolutely bad ; e.g., the 
3rd of Asorotany the 2nd of Asombola, the 2nd of 

Divination among the Malagasy. 221 

Alakaosy, and the ist of Adijady ; others were absolutely 
good, e.g., the three days called Alahamady, and the 2nd of 
Alakarabo ; others again were considered indifferent, eg., 
the 1st and 2nd of Alahasaty. 

4. Some days again were not considered good in general, 
but still good enough for special purposes ; e.g., the ist of 
Alakarabo was excellent for a house-warming ; the 2nd of 
Adijady was good for marking out the ground for a new 
town ; and the 3rd of Adimizana was a lucky day to be 
born on, but a bad day for business. 

5. Some days had a special peculiarity of their own ; 
e.g., children born on the 2nd of Adalo generally became 
dumb ! so they say. 

6. Even the bad days were generally so only in the 
sense of having too strong a vintana. This was especially 
the reason why children born on these days were con- 
sidered a very doubtful gift. Hence the infanticide in 
former times in the central provinces of Madagascar, and 
still practised in most parts of the country where Chris- 
tianity has not yet been taught. Sometimes, however, the 
diviner managed to remedy the evil in one way or another ; 
and occasionally nothing more was required than to give 
the child a name which intimated that the child would not 
do any harm, notwithstanding its strong vintana. Hence 
such names as Itsimanosika,^ Itsimandratra," Itsimaniho,^ 
Itsimanolaka,'* etc., all expressing in a general way that 
the child would be harmless. Those born on the 2nd of 
Adalo were often called Itsimarofy ("One who is not ill"), 
to avert the danger of dumbness. 

Not only were the twenty-eight days of the month 
called after the month-names (and also after the moon- 
stations), but, as already mentioned, a Hova house of the 
old style had also its sides and corners named after the 

1 One who does not push. 

2 One who does not hurt. 

* One who does not elbow. 

* One who does not weaken. 

222 Divination among the Malagasy. 

same fashion, beginning with the first month-name, Ala- 
hamady, at the north-eastern corner, that is, the sacred 
part of the house, where the family charm was placed, and 
where prayers and invocations were offered. The inmates, 
on each day, had to take particular care not to go to the 
corner or side assigned to that particular day, or, at all 
events, not to place a sick person there, for, by so doing, 
they would provoke the spirit of that region. (See dia- 
gram herewith given.) 








Malagasy House, showing localities of San-amiro Months and Days. 

Mr. Dahle says that the vintana is really the key to the 
whole system of idolatry in Madagascar, and to everything 
connected with it, at least so far as it got any real hold on 
the people ; while the sikidy practice is also closely mixed 
up with it, although many points still need further investi- 

B. — The last division of the subject, that of San-andj'o or 
Planetary Vintana, must be discussed very briefly. The 
word san-andrOy in its use among the Malagasy, means 
the peculiarities or character of the days of the week as 
depending on the Seven Planets, considered as governors 
of these days. The following is a list of the days of the 

Divination among the Malagasy. 223 

Malagasy week, together with their respective smi-andro 
names, and their special numbers and characters : — 









Alahady i 
















































The fourth column of the above list gives the Arabic 
names of the Seven Planets, from which Mr. Dahle 
shows that the san-dndi'o names of the week-days were 
clearly derived. 

Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of Latin will 
see immediately that what were in Malagasy the extra- 
ordinary day-names, only used in san-andro, were in Latin 
the ordinary day-names (^Dies Solis, Lun(2, Martis, etc.) ; 
and their retention in part amongst modern European 
nations, with changes, as among ourselves, for Teutonic 
god-names, for some days, is well known. The explana- 
tion, says Mr, Dahle, of this rather curious fact, no doubt, 
is that the astrology of Babylonia spread both to Arabia 
and from thence to Madagascar, and also to Europe ; and 
that, according to this astrology, the planets in question, 
and the gods identified with them, held the sway over the 
days of the week ; and it depended on the supposed 
nature of each planet whether the day under its sway 
should be considered a lucky or an unlucky one. JVhy 
such differences were supposed to result from the different 

^ Mr. Dahle had previously shown (in Antananarn'O Annual, 
No. II, pp. 79-80) that these native names for the days of the week 
are of purely Arabic origin, the first five names being simply numerals 
from one to five, the first four being cardinals used as ordinals, and 
the fifth an ordinal ("One day", "Two day', etc.) ; the sixth is from 
Bschiana, " Congregation Day", the Sabbath of the Mohammedans ; 
while the seventh is simply the Hebrew " Sabbath", slightly altered 
in spelling and termination. 

2 24 Divination among the Malagasy. 

planets it is very difficult to say ; but we know that the 
notion of lucky and unlucky days has been tenaciously 
held by the common people in the different countries of 
Europe, and still retains its hold in many places. 

It will be observed that the last column of the above 
list gives a certain number connected with each day-name,, 
and that these do not follow the order in which the days 
occur in the week, except in the case of the first. These 
numbers have, however, great importance in the practical 
part o{ san-andro, as will be seen. 

1. The San-andro of the Dead, or Direct San-andro. — This 
had reference apparently exclusively to burials ; if a corpse 
was to be buried, it would probably be done on a " good" 
day (Sunday, Tuesday, or Wednesday) ; but the proceed- 
ings depended greatly on the numbers characteristic of the 
san-andro of that day. If, for instance, it was on Wednes- 
day, the special number of which is 6, they had to stop six 
times with the bier on the way to the grave, throw down a 
stone at each stopping-place, and carry the corpse six times 
round the grave before they buried it. And so, mutatis 
mutandis, with the other days, according to their special 

It is impossible, with our present knowledge, to say why 
these different days acquired their special numbers, as they 
do not follow the order either of the six or the brightness 
of the respective planets. The Moon-day, it will be seen, 
is not No. 2 on the list, as might have been supposed, but 
No. 5 ; and the Venus-day is not No. 3, but No. 7. 

2. The San-andro of the Living, or the San-andro which 
was counted ^^ Backwards". — This appears to have had re- 
ference only to sacrifices ; in offering these, the invocations 
made by the priest referred, not to the san-andro of the 
day the offering was made, but to that of " the day before 
yesterday", in other words, two days backward. Offerings 
could only be brought on the three " good" days ; but the 
sikidy could be performed on any day. 

3. TJie Chai'acter of the Seven Days of the Week in rela- 

Divination aniong the Malagasy. 225 

tion to Evils and the Foretelling- of Evils. — The following 
rules were given to Mr. Dahle by his native " professor": 

1. Sunday was the proper day for everything white : 

white-haired people, white stones, etc. 

2. Monday: the day for everything ^r^^;? and black- 

ish : grass, forests, greenish birds, people with 
blackish skin, etc. 

3. Tuesday : the day of people who have many scars, 

and are marked from small-pox. 

4. Wednesday : the day of ivoinen and everything 


5. Thursday: the day of i-Zrtz/^j-. 

6. Friday: the day of nobles and everything red (red 

or scarlet clothes, etc.), characteristic of the 
higher nobility. 

7. Saturday: the day of young people and every- 

thing young. 

So if a man suffering from some evil came to a diviner 
on a Sunday, he would be told that his complaint had 
been caused by some white stone ; or by drinking milk, in 
which there were some ghosts ; or that he had been be- 
witched by some white-haired woman ; or, at any rate, 
that he was in danger of some such mishap, and had better 
look out carefully. If he came on Thursday, his trouble 
was almost sure to be attributed to some slave, or he was 
warned to beware of his slaves, lest they should murder or 
bewitch him. And so on, for the other days, according to 
the nature of the day. 

4. Foretelling of the Tdsik' imdro, i.e., the day on which 
one may be in special danger of getting ill through the in- 
fluence of the vintana. — This division of the sa^i-andro was 
a peculiar compound of vintana and sikidy subjected to 
certain rules, by which, beginning with Tuesday, different 
columns in the sikidy point to the different days of the 
week ; e.g., if a combination of the two columns Trdno and 
Ldlana in the sikidy erected gives a figure which is like 


226 Divination among the Malagasy. 

Tale (which represents the man in question), he is in 
danger of being taken ill on Tuesday. If the figures in 
Lalana and Mpdnontdny are like Tale, Wednesday is the 
unlucky day for him ; and so on with other combinations. 
It is needless here to detail the remedies for these sup- 
posed evils. 

Mr. Dahle says in his concluding sentence : " The sikidy 
and vintana was once the most tremendous power in 
Madagascar ; let us thank God that its spell is broken, and 
its influence passing away." I fancy there are few who will 
not say " Amen" to that sentiment ; for whatever may be 
the interest which these old Malagasy customs have for us 
as students of folk-lore and humanity (and I venture to 
think that Mr. Dahle's researches are full of interest), we 
must surely rejoice that such a system of folly and cre- 
dulity on the one hand, and of trickery and deceit on the 
other, is losing its hold over the most influential tribe of 
Madagascar, the people who have gradually become the 
dominant race of the island. And I trust I shall be par- 
doned when, as a Christian missionary, I remind you that 
the remarkable changes which have passed over the central 
provinces of the great African island are the direct result 
of the educational, the enlightening, and the purifying in- 
fluences which attend the proclamation of the Gospel of 
Christ. It was this which, from forty to fifty years ago, 
enabled about 200 Malagasy believers to lay down their 
lives for their faith ; it is this which is now, especially in 
the interior provinces, promoting education, forming an 
extensive literature, and furthering civilisation ; and it is 
this alone which is slowly but surely lifting up the entire 
community to the level of an intelligent, enlightened, and 
Christian people. 

James Sibree. 


FIVE years ago, " as I vvalk'd through the wilderness of 
this world, I lighted on a certain place" called Han- 
over, and tarried there awhile. Encouraged by the assur- 
ance of Browning, that — 

" Hamelin Town 's in Brunswick, 
By famous Hanover city," 

I formed an enthusiastic resolve to tread in the footsteps of 
the " Pied Piper", and to do what I could to investigate the 
history of that old North-German tradition, smiled on by 
the genius of our great poet, and added within the last half- 
century to the common stock of English nursery-delights. 
The undertaking was greater than I anticipated. I had 
not realised that to one with a scarce school-girl knowledge 
of the language of the country, research would prove even 
more difficult than it is wont to be ; and I had trusted too 
blindly to Browning's exactness in the matter of topography. 
That " Hamelin Town 's in" Hanover, and not in Bruns- 
wick, was of no real consequence ; but that " by famous 
Hanover city", translated into prose, should signify over 
twenty-five miles off — fifty there and back, to be impressed 
on the memory by the " calm deliberation" of a State rail- 
way — was a fact of serious importance to one who had but 
little leisure for excursions. However, I did contrive to trot 
my hobby thrice to Hameln, and I set my seven senses 
loose on the track of the Piper. Of course they were at 
fault : the Pied One ran to earth six centuries ago, and 
may not since then have visited "the glimpses of the moon"; 
but, in spite of that, I derived some sort of satisfaction from 
my introduction to the place ; and as I have since, person- 


228 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

ally and per alios, taken much pains to get at the literature 
of my subject, I hope I may be borne with as I attempt to 
set a portion of the result before the readers of FOLK- 

Hameln is a charming old town, and if you go there 
knowing that it is one of the shrines of folk-lore, and go in 
sympathetic mood, you will feel as if you had passed out 
of every-day environment into story-land, and may wonder 
whether you have done so in a dream, or whether the bliss 
be yours in tangible reality. If in a dream, that would 
account for divers incongruities, and take away the shock 
of intrusive modernisms for which it were folly to blame 
the I i,ooo who make the place their home, and whose main 
care it cannot be to live up to the picturesque tradition of 
which it is the scene. A very little make-believe, an equal 
knowledge of the history of architectural styles, and then, 
when you are in the quaint main street, whatever season 
and whatever year it be for other folk, it is with you the 
festival of SS. John and Paul, the 26th of June 1284 ; and 
you set your ears to catch some echo of the strain which 
wiled the lost but never-yet-forgotten children forth. Shortly 
after the Osterstrasse is entered on, a fine early 17th century 
dwelling, on the left, is safe to claim attention ; it goes by 
the name of the Rattenfanger {i.e., Ratcatcher's) Haus, and 
is probably so called because the end which abuts on the 
Bungelosestrasse has an inscription,^ in German, more 
archaic than the building itself, commemorating the Out- 
going. At the other extremity of the Osterstrasse is a 
similar record'^ on the Wedding- or Hochzeitshaus, a fine 

^ " Anno 1284. Am Dage Johannis et Pauli War der 26. Junii Durch 
einen Pieper mit allerly Farve bekledet Gewesen cxxx Kinder verledet 
Binnen Hameln geboren To Calverie bi den Koppen verloren." As 
given in Hameln und Bad Pyrinonl : IVegweiser (Hameln, Fuende- 

ling), P- 5- 

2 " Nach Christi Geburt 1284 Jahr Gingen bei den Koppen unter 
Verwahr Hundert und dreissig Kinder, in Hameln geboren von einem 
Pfeiffer verfiirt und verloren." (Fuendeling's Wegweiser, p. 6.) 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 229 

structure erected between 1610 and 1617 for marriage 
festivities, but diverted from its purpose since 1721.^ 
Behind rises the spire of the parish church of S. Nicholas, 
which may still enwall stones that witnessed how the parents 
prayed, while the Piper wrought sorrow for them without. 
On Sunday morning, too, some of the story-tellers say it 
was; but June 26th, 1284, was Monday; and in 1376,8. Mary 
Magdalene's Day, July 22nd, another alleged date (accept- 
able to Browning), fell on a Tuesday, if tables in Sir Harris 
Nicolas's Chronology of History be trustworthy. An ancient 
minster greatly rejuvenated, formerly the collegiate church 
of S. Boniface (Bonifatiusstift), is some little distance off 
on the left, hard by the bank of the Weser, which flows 
west of the town, not south, as Browning says, and goes 
with a sweep that would soon carry a horde of rats out of 
reach of flesh-pots. Golden mice were made by the Philis- 
tines- in Samuel's time when they were delivered from the 
plague that marred their land ; but that may have been a 
golden age : this is an age of gingerbread, and the Hameln 
people manufacture rats accordingly. It will be under- 
stood that I use the word " gingerbread" generically : the 
artists work in sugar, chocolate, and other plastic materials, 
as best it pleases them. The card conveying " Grlisse aus 
Hameln" is nibbled round the edges to show its authen- 
ticity. In short, in tourist-season the staple trade seems to 
embody itself in rodents, for which the noted flour-mill on 
the river, in more senses than one, provides the raw material. 
I must also add that if the sapid sewers be quite free from 
rats, the rats neglect an opportunity. 

In one window tin whistles, which bore token of being of 
British origin, were ticketed as " Rattenfanger Pfeifen", and 
though, when a lad with me put one of them to his lips, 
not a ridiadus mus came forth, it was plain that the child- 
ren around were all alert and curious. Possibly, however, 

1 Sprenger's Geschichte der Stadt Hameln, bearbeitet vom Amtmann 
von Reissenstein, p. 153 (Hameln, 1S61). Sprenger published in 1825. 
^ I Samuel, vi, 4, 5. 

230 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

being warned by their elders against Pipers, as perils pecu- 
liar to the district, they may have planted their feet firmly 
and looked about for the police. In 1887 photographs of 
the beguiler abounded ; not of course of the original Bunting, 
but of a well-fed burgher who personated him in June 1884, 
when Hameln made the best of her loss by celebrating that 
most famous incident in her history with pageant, speech, 
and pleasantry, thus causing, as somebody has observed, a 
tragedy to be the motive of a festival,^ Two days the 
revels lasted : on the first, Herr Pietsch stood out and 
piped, and a multitude of children dressed in grey, with 
rat- like masks and india-rubber tails, swarmed after him ; 
on the second, his music gathered little ones, in old-world 
garb, and he led them to a quasi-" Koppenberg" — but, like 
the King of France's army, " they all marched back again"! 
Julius Wolff, who has woven a charming poem^ out of the 
Rattenfanger story, was there, and so was Victor Nessler 
the Alsatian composer, whose very popular opera^ is for the 
most part a musical rendering of Wolff It were vain to 
speculate how many shades of other Hameln-stricken 
authors were hovering around. I think this festival may 
have quickened Holbe, the sculptor's remarkable figure, of 
which I have a miniature reproduction here ; as also a pho- 
tograph which shows the expression of subtle malignancy 
far better than the cast. At the time of my visits the town 
sought money to have this figure erected in the Pferdemarkt. 
A companion statuette was of Gertrude, the fisher-girl, 
who was Singuf's — so Wolff calls him — love. The pair are 
already honoured in the fountain here represented. 

When I came to seek for the Koppel, or Koppenberg, 
where the children of 1284 are said to have vanished, it 

^ Das Rattenfafiger/est m Hameln, p. i, etc. (Hameln, Niemeyer, 
1884). Information about costumes from a letter from Fuendeling( 1892). 

^ Der Rattenfd7iger von Hameln: Eine Aventciire, 2 5te Auflage, 
(Berlin, 1885). 

^ Der Rattettfdnger von Hameln. Oper in fiinf Akten (Leipzig, 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 231 

seemed to me as if I were directed in turn to all points of 
the compass ; and I thought then, and have thought ever 
since, that there is something in the atmosphere of Hameln 
which tends to bewilderment and suggests enchantment. 
I sometimes felt there as if I were the victim of a spell ; 
and maybe some tricksy Ariel zuas making me his sport. 
The fact that I and my companions spoke as barbarians 
had possibly something to do with the difficulties ; then, 
too, certain of the people appealed to may have fancied we 
were in quest of the Kltit, the hill to which Pietsch led his 
followers on the festal day ; and others may not have 
known — as at the outset I did not — that what is now 
called the Bassberg was, according to some, the mediaeval 
Koppen. Koppen is suggestive of heads, and Dr. Otto 
Meinardus, Royal Archivist at Berlin, who has bestowed 
much research on the records of his native Hameln, believes 
that the scene of the Disappearance was the two-headed 
Teutberg, which commands the Hildesheim and Hanover 
roads, and bars the end of the Weser valley,^ This would 
be a far cry for the little children ; but the Bassberg is 
within a stroll from the town, and I have but little doubt 
that I meditated on its summit on the occasion of my 
third hunt at Hameln. I am not as easily convinced as 
were the writer and the illustrator of a pleasant paper in 
the Magazine of Art- ; the hill was pointed out to them 
from a distance, they seem to have gone by instinct to the 
proper knoll, and (to quote) " we pitched at once on the 
spot where we felt sure the laughing children had dis- 
appeared ; a huge wild rose-bush, glowing with scarlet 
hips, was growing there. It must have been a lovely 
sight of flowers some months before. We gathered a 
bunch of the scarlet fruit as a memory of our visit. There 

^ Neues Material zur Geschichte dcr Rattenfdngersage^ in Zeitschrift 
des historischen Vereins fiir Niedersachsen, 1885, p. 267. 

'" Hameln, the Towtt of the Pied Piper or " Der Ratten/dnger^' 
(vol. for 1890, p. 192), by Katharine M. Macquoid. 

232 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

was nothing besides this rose-tree to mark the scene of 
the mysterious catastrophe." 

It is a curious coincidence that about 1654 roses^ were 
all that Erich could discern on a sculptured stone on the 
Koppen, which was regarded as a memorial of that Exodus 
Hanieletisis of which he was writing. Only a few years 
ago there were old people who professed to remember two 
stones in the form of a cross upon the hill^ ; and I myself 
fell in with a young man, of some twenty summers, who 
seemed to assert that he had often seen the record ; yet I 
looked and looked in vain, and was scarcely solaced when 
Dr. Meinardus wrote to me^ : " A memorial stone with an 
inscription on the so-called Koppen you will never find. 
If such a thing ever existed, which is doubtful, it is no 
longer there." 

Is the episode of the Pied Piper credible? is the question 
that has been for some time before me ; and, at the risk of 
incurring your scorn, I answer that it is. A few accretions, 
such as no tradition or even frequently re-written story is 
likely to avoid, must of course be cleared off; but this 
may easily be done, and then I think nothing will be 
found remaining that any reverent-minded folk-lorer need 
decline to hold. 

Early in the present century an account of the Hameln 
disaster was distilled from ten different sources (four only 
of them to be sipped of at the British Museum) by the 
Brothers Grimm, for their Deutsche Sagen^ where it runs 
essentially as follows. In the year 1284, a strange man 
appeared at Hameln wearing a many-coloured coat, which is 
said to have earned for him the name of Bundting. He gave 

^ Sprenger, p. 15, note. 

- " Alte Leute in Hameln wollen diese Kreuze noch gekannt haben." 
— Letter from Herr Fuendeling, 1887. 

^ "Einen Gedenkstein mit einer Inschrift am sogenanten ' Koppen' 
warden Sie wol nie finden. Wenn ein solcher vorhanden war, was 
man bezweifeln muss, so ist er jetzt keineswegs mehr dort."^i887. 

* Vol. i (2nd ed.), pp. 290-2. 

The Pied Piper of Ha7ne/in. 233 

himself out to be a rat-catcher, and promised to free the 
town from mice and rats for a stated sum, which the burghers 
agreed to pay. He drew out a Httle pipe, sounded it, and 
straightway all the rats and mice ran from the houses and 
gathered round him. He led them to the Weser, and, 
when he trussed up his garments and entered the water, 
they rushed in after him and were drowned. Then the 
burghers, being freed from the plague, repudiated their 
contract with Bundting, who departed in hot anger. On 
the Festival of SS. John and Paul, the 26th of June, at 
seven o'clock in the morning, or, as some say, at midday, 
he appeared again in the guise of a hunter with a curious 
red cap on his head, and he sounded his pipe in the lanes. 
At once came forth, not rats and mice, but children — boys 
and girls of four years old and upwards — and, moreover, 
the Burgermaster's grown-up daughter. All followed him, 
followed him out till they came to a hill, where he and 
they disappeared. So said a nursemaid, who, babe in 
arms, had felt the attraction from afar. Parents hastened, 
crowding through the gates, to seek their darlings, messen- 
gers were sent over land and water to pursue the guest ; 
but everything was vain. In all, 130 children were a- 
missing. Some have it that two — one blind, the other 
dumb, and apparently also deaf — came back again : the 
former, unable to point out the place of disappearance, 
could yet tell well enough why the Piper had been fol- 
lowed ; while the mute knew the place, but had been 
insensible to the sound. A little lad who set off running 
in his shirt, and returned to fetch his coat, took up the 
pursuit too late to share the lot of his playmates. 

This I believe to be a fair presentment of the story as 
it would now be told by one whose memory had not been 
led astray by latter-day literary adepts, who have elabo- 
rated the theme. The curious in chronology may perhaps 
take exception to my date, for authors offer a bewildering 
variety, ranging from 1259 to 1378. Sometimes a theory 
is accountable; sometimes the habit of there or thereabout- 

234 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

ness. 1 53 1 and 1556 were dates that, in earlier times, 
appeared one under the other at Hameln upon its Neuethor/ 
above a legend stating that the gate was erected 272 
years after the Outgoing: 272 subtracted from 1531 gives 
1259; from 1556, 1284; result, uncertainty. A writer in 
1556^ speaks of about 180 years ago; another, in 1568,^ 
puts it at about 190 ; while in 1643* it is a matter of 250 
years since. 1284 has, at present, vogue in Hameln. I 
fancy Browning's direct authority for 1376 was Verstegan.^ 
I have an impression that I range myself with a very 
small minority in accepting the account of the Outgoing 
just given as being approximately true. The explana- 
tions that have been offered to make it more credible to 
the majority may be glanced at. (i) It has been elabo- 
rated out of a possible mock-fight on the Koppen, in 
which earnest succeeded jest, and many young men were 
slain, and so lost to their parents. (2) An earthquake or 
a landslip engulfed the 130. (3) Tilo Colup, pretending 
that he was the Emperor Frederick II returned from the 
Holy Land, attracted many followers in the latter part of 
the 13th century, and missing Hameln lads may have been 
among them. (4) In 1286, Jews are said to have murdered 
children in a mill at Fulda : Hameln being originally Quern 
Hameln, the sorrow was possibly imputed to her by error. 
(5) There was strife in Brunswick in 1281 between Duke 
Albrecht and his sons. One of them, being arrested and 
imprisoned without warning, his sudden removal may have 

^ Passim; but see Sprenger, pp. 14 and 152. The inscription ran : 
" Centu ter denos cum magus ab urbe puellos duxerat ante 272 
condita porta fui." 

2 Fincelius. ^ Hondorff. * Howell. 

•^ A Restitution of Decayed Ifttelligence, 1605 (1634, pp. 85, 86). Mr. 
Arthur Symons {An Introduction to the Study of Brownings p. 50) 
says, "North Wanley's Wonders of the Little World, 1678, and the 
books there cited", were the authorities. Wanley gives 1284, and 
two out of the three writers on whom he depends, never so much as 
mention 1376; the third, Schot, /"/^j.?. Curios, I have not met wi^h. 
Wier and Howell are the others. 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 235 

been multiplied by 130.^ (6) Fein- believed that he un- 
masked fable when he maintained the slaughter of many 
sons of Hameln at the battle of Sedemlinde (1259), 
and the carrying of others into captivity, to be the 
groundwork of the legend. He observed that on a sculp- 
tured house in the Papenstrasse the Piper was followed by 
youths bearing spears.^ Still, setting aside the fact that it 
is hardly likely the glory and fate of war would be reduced 
to anything as ignominious as the Koppen catastrophe, 
the two events were recorded as separate items in one of 
the municipal registers* ; and the result of the fight was 
annually commemorated in the parish church of S. Nicholas^ 
and at the Bonifatiusstiff^ on S. Pantaleon's Day. (7) 
Some authors give a mystical interpretation ; Dr. Busch,^ 
for instance, regards the Piper as the Aryan death-god ; 
and others talk of Dame Hulda, and see souls in the rats 
as well as in the children. (8) Our own countryman, Mr. 
Baring-Gould, writes : " The root of the myth is this : the 
Piper is no other than the wind, and the ancients held 
that in the wind were the souls of the dead."^ (9) I do 
not recollect whether those universal resolvents — Dawn 
and Darkness — have been called into requisition, but, if I 
myself were asked to give the mot (Tenigme, I should say 
with confidence Bunting is an apt designation for the 
source of colour, and Kockerill, another name applied to 
him in story ,^ suggests " the bird of dawning". We need 
not hesitate to recognise the sun in the pied musician, 
who banishes those nocturnal marauders, rats, and renders 

^ First five suggestions in Martin Schoock's Fabula Hamelensis 
(1659), of which I have an abstract. 

^ Die entlarvete Fabel vom Aiisgange der Hatnelschen Kinder 
(1749). I know this only at second-hand. 

^ Von Reissenstein's note to Sprenger, p. 15. 

* Die historische Kern, by Dr. Meinardus (1882), p. 49. 

^ Sprenger, p. 10. ^ Meinardus, p. 24. 

"^ Die Grenzboten, i. Semester, 1875, p. 505. 

* Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, p. 427. 

' Die Wunderpfei/e, oderdie Kinder von Hameln, by Gustav Nieritz. 


6 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

minor heavenly bodies invisible by his brightness. It is 
on such lines that the story of Apollo Smintheus is inter- 

But now let us turn from these ingenuities, and set our- 
selves to consider what claim the story of the Pied Piper 
may have to be received as an essentially true if not wholly 
unvarnished tale. How does it appear when we seek for a 
record of it in writings of the 13th century, in books which 
must have been penned before this more than nine-days' 
wonder had ceased to interest, and long ere wounds in 
Hameln hearts would heal ? Martin Schoock, who essayed 
to demolish what he called the Fabula Hamelensis in 1659, 
assures us that no contemporary left note of the event, and 
gives us to understand that there was an ominous con- 
sensus of silence concerning it for some 250 years, until 
1 6th century authors busied themselves to make it known. 
He delivers himself in Latin ; but, being interpreted, he 
seems to say : " Under the Emperor Rudolf of Hapsburg, 
who began to reign A.D. 1272, lived the compiler of the 
Annales Cohnariensinvi, who with his continuator reaches 
1302 ; of all those whom I know, he is the most ignorant 
of the laws of history, and descends even to such poor 
matters as the details of the harvest and vintage, and of the 
sale of ripe strawberries, cherries, and pears in the June of 
1283. Who would believe that an author relating such 
minuticB would neglect a prodigy whose fame ought to 
have filled, if not all Europe at least all Germany? Also 
Werner Rolewinck a Laer, a Westphalian, a man deeply 
learned in the Scriptures, and in matters secular .... 
though living near Hameln and stopping at 1464, does not 
gather this flower, the exit of the children from that town, 
into his nosegay {Fasciculi Tcviporiini). Like remark 
might be made of the author of the Magnum Chronicon 
Belgici, ending 1474, who revels in all kinds of historic 
trifles ; of Trithenius, Abbot of Spanheim, who snatched 
from darkness whatever was worth remembering in his 
^ Curious Myths, p. 435. 

The Pied Pipe}' of Hamelin. 237 

Chronicon Hirsangiense ending 1370, and Spanheiniense 
ending with 1502; of Hartmann Schedel, author of the 
Nuremburg Chronicle, down to 1492 ; Nauclerus, Chan- 
cellor of the University of Tubingen, whose record goes 
through several generations to 1500 : and of Albert Crantz, 
author of a Saxon history reaching to 1520. Even Paulus 
Langius, though there be rare things in his chronicle, which 
ends in 15 15, omits this story, nor is there a trace of it in 
Johannes Aventinium. Hence we are of opinion," adds 
Schoock, " that this affair is an invention of superstition 
and monkish ignorance." 

Well, possibly it may be all this ; but I cannot myself 
allow that an alleged event of medieval times ought to be 
stamped out of credence, merely because it was not 
chronicled by certain contemporary scribes, whose works 
we happen to know, but of whose idiosyncrasies, dis- 
abilities, motives, and scope we cannot adequately judge. 
A case in point is the following : I confess I began to 
sympathise with the incredulity of Schoock when I learnt 
from Sprenger^ that John de Polde or Pohle takes no 
notice of the Outgoing in his Chronicon Hamelense, for he 
worked at it as an aged man in 1384, and if he came of 
native stock,^ his own father may have been in peril from 
the Piper, may have been the very babe who kept the 
nursemaid back from joining in the rout. This considera- 
tion loses cogency when we know the limit of the under- 
taking. Meinardus^ tells us that we ought not to wonder 
at Pohle's silence, because he was merely engaged on a 
history of the Collegiate Church at Hameln, of which he 
was a canon, and that he did not meddle with municipal 
matters or speak of political events. Let us give the good 
man credit for minding his own business, and acknowledge 
that he had nothing to do with ours. We should re- 
member, too, that although the narrative in which we are 

1 Pp. 16 and 268. 

* This, his surname does not encourage us to suppose. 

^ Der historische Ker?7, p. 1 4. 

238 The Pied Piper of Hainelin, 

interested did not engage the pens of the aforesaid writers, 
it may nevertheless have put in motion those of other 
scribes whose parchments have been less successful in the 
war with Time. When we reflect how strangely rare 
copies of whole editions of comparatively modern books 
have grown, we ought not to find it difficult to realise that 
hundreds of unique MSS. would utterly pass out of being 
through fire, water, and violence in the blustrous Middle 
Ages. With them would perish the sole record of some 
episodes which our after-times have never heard of, and 
likewise the only documentary evidence of others that, 
until the invention of printing, would be handed on to later 
ages by tradition. It is with these latter that I would have 
you class the Hameln story, if I should fail to show there 
is reason for thinking that its preservation was never for 
long, if indeed at all, confided to the popular memory 

From the i6th century, when men's minds were roused 
into fertility by great religious agitation and by the im- 
pulse of the new learning, and when the fresh faculty of 
multiplying copies had encouraged the making of books 
and lessened their chance of extermination, we have abun- 
dant testimony that concerns us. The earliest I can quote 
is that of Fincelius, a Doctor of Medicine, who — to trans- 
late the quaint German of his Wundcrzeiclten^ (^SS^). 
says : " Of the Devil's power and wickedness will I here 
tell a true history. About 180 years ago, on S. Mary 
Magdalene's Day, it came to pass at Hammel on the 
Weser in Saxony, that the Devil went about the streets 
visibly in human form, piped and allured many children, 
boys and girls, and led them through the town-gate to- 
wards a mountain. When he arrived there he disappeared 
with the numerous children who had followed him, and 
nobody knew what became of the children. Thus did a 
girl who had followed them afar report to her parents, and 
thereupon diligent search and inquiry was soon made over 

1 C, V. 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 239 

land and water to find out whether the children had pos- 
sibly been stolen and led away. But nobody could tell 
what had become of the children. This grieved the 
parents terribly, and is a fearful example of divine anger 
against sin. This is all written in the town-book of Ham- 
mel, where many persons of high standing have read and 
heard it." 

" Written in the town-book of Hammel", he says, and so 
say not only Hondorff^ (1568), who took Fincelius on 
trust, and later men who nourished themselves on Hon- 
dorff; but the assertion is confirmed by Wier, who visited 
Hameln in 1567,- and seems to have made personal ex- 
amination of all the evidence it could adduce in support of 
its fame. He had published his book on the "Delusions 
of Devils", De PrcBstigiis Dc^moTiorum, in 1563, the second 
edition in the following year, but showed no sign of know- 
ing anything of that " modern instance", the Pied Piper. 
He had heard of it, however, before a third issue of his work 
was ready at Basle in 1566, and he made it the subject of 
a short paragraph. A few months later, he sought the 
locus in quo, and became as enthusiastic a believer as even 
I could wish in the authenticity of all that he was shown 
and told. The 4th edition of De Prcustigiis, which came 
out in 1577, gives token of this : after repeating the narra- 
tive, he says in Latin, what amounts in English to : " These 
facts are thus written in the annals of Hammel and are re- 
ligiously guarded in the archives ; they are to be read also 
in the sacred books of the Church, and to be seen in the 
painted panes of the same ; of which fact I am an eye 
witness. Besides, as confirmation of the story, the older^ 

1 Promptorium Exemplorum, p. 6()b. 

^ This and what follows concerning Wier is gathered from Alei- 
nardus's pamphlet, Der historische Kern, pp. 14, 15. Wier's work is 
not in the British Museum Library. 

^ Subsequent to 1379 a change in the local government took place, 
rnd enactments in the statute-book {Der Donat) customarily begin 
"de olde rad un de nye hebbet ghesateghet". (Sprenger, pp. 31 and 

240 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

magistracy was accustomed to write together on its public 
documents: "in the year of Christ and in that of the going 
out of the children," etc. Moreover, care is taken to this 
day that there should be a perpetual memorial of the event, 
for the sound of a drum [tympanuvi] is never allowed in 
that street along which the children went forth, and even 
if a bride be led from it, there must be no music till she has 
passed out, nor are dances performed there. In con- 
sequence of this the street is actually called Burgelo- 
scstrass" — or, as Meinardus corrects, Bungelosestrasse, or 
Drumless Street, Bunge signifying Trommel. In 1634 
Richard Vestegan^ writes that " no Ostery" is " to be there 

There is a Bungelose,- or Bungenlos^ (the name is 
variously spelt) Street now at Hameln in which no kind 
of music is permitted, excepting that which steals in 
through the air, as I have heard it do, from some player 
otherwhere. I thought I had caught the burghers napping; 
but no; the notes were for the enlivenment of an adjacent 
street, and no by-law could forbid them to creep over and 
through the houses into the lane sacred to a never-forgotten 
grief. That the Bungelosestr. was not invented, as some 
have suggested, in the middle of the sixteenth century, to 
furnish a substantial background to the Pied Piper is 
evident, since Dr. Meinardus's discovery* of a document 
at Hameln, in which, under the date Friday, the i6th of 
September 1496, occurs the phrase " uppe der bungehelos- 
enstrate". It is, of course, open to anyone to say that an 
odd, because probably corrupt, name was pressed into the 
service of our legend. My own doubt hovers, rather, over 
the point that a tuneless thing like a drum should be 
taken as the representative musical instrument, in a case 

^ P. 86. I have not seen the Restiiu/ion of 1605. 
2 Plan issued by Schmidt and Suckert. 
^ Gier's Plan. 

* Die Bu?igeloscstrasse, in Zeiischrift des historischen Vercins fiir 
Niedersachsen^ 1884, pp. 271-2. 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 241 

where a pipe would have been far more typical and 

The memorial-glass " on the great church window 
painted", which Browning sang, was probably of that 
which Wier saw. It was not in the Minster, but in the 
parish church of S. Nicholas, at the east end. " Anno 
1 571" is at the base of the inscription, as quoted by 
Schoock from Erich's Exodus Hamelensis, a work not in 
the British Museum Library, and at present beyond my 
reach. This must refer to a restoration of the glass at 
the instance of Friedrich Poppendieck, which Bunting 
notes.^ Wier's visit was four years earlier than that, 
namely in 1567, By 1654, when Erich wrote, the legend 
was somewhat imperfect,^ but one can see that it told of 
the leading forth of the Hameln children to the Koppen 
on that fateful day of S. John and S. Paul. The " storied 
window" was turned to good account by Pastor Letzner, 
1590, who, in his Chronicle concerning the foundations at 
Hildesheim, exclaims with reference to it,^ " O you dear 
Christian parents, do not behold and gaze on this painting, 
merely as a cow or some other irrational beast looks at an 
old door ; but ponder it in your hearts in a Christian 
manner, and do not let your children run astray, so that 
the Devil gets power over them, as may soon and easily 
happen." If you ask me what became of this interesting 
glass, which Seyfrid in 1679 mentions in the Medulla as 
then existing, I think I can give you a hint. I supposed 
the French — who are the " Oliver Cromwells" of the 
Continent — had made an end of it during their occupation 
of Hameln, when they used the Marktkirche as a hospital ; 
but I fear the blame is more likely to be our own. The 

1 Braiinschweigisch-Libieburgische Chronica,^. 52 (vol. i, 1584; ii, 
J 584). 


Anno 1571. 
^ Die Grenzboten, No. 26, p. 500. 


242 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

building served as a storehouse for booty after the battle 
of Minden in 1759, and that being disposed of, the Engh'sh 
turned it into a flour-magazine. According to the indig- 
nant Sprenger/ " they destroyed pulpit, altar, and organ, 
an outrage which the French, though enemies, had not 
permitted. The paintings were burnt, and many of the 
organ-pipes stolen." 

We will next consider what written testimony the men 
of Hameln could present to the enquiring Wier. He 
speaks of Church books in the plural, and there is no 
reason to doubt that he saw them ; but they are all gone 
somewhither by this time, and, as far as I know, only a 
single volume has been specifically named,- a Passio7iale of 
the Middle Ages, the title-page of which was inscribed 
in red ink, with an invocation to the B.V.M., and some 
poor Latin verses^ about the swallowing up of the children, 
that had a prose version* underneath. These things are 
attributed to the fourteenth or fifteenth century. I cannot 
help the vagueness, though I regret it. The Passionate 
belonged to the Minster, and the entries were copied from 
it by Pastor Herr (who died 1753) into one of the two 
books of miscellaneous matter about Hameln, which it was 
his pleasure to collect. 

Among municipal archives, it is likely that Wier saw, 
because from their very raison d'etre they were just what 
he would seek to see, the Brade and the Donat, the former 

1 P. 208. 

2 Die liistoriscfie Kern^ pp. 7, 8. 

^ " Post duo C. C. mille post octoginta quaterve 
— Annus hie est ille, quo languet sexus uterque — 
Orbantis pueros centumque triginta Joannis 
Et Pauli caros Hamelenses non sine damnis, 
Fatur, ut omnes eos vivos Calvaria sorpsit, 
Christi tuere reos, ne tarn mala res quibus obsit." 

* " Anno millesimo ducentesimo octuagesimo quarto in die Johannis 
et Pauli perdiderunt Hamelenses centum et triginta pueros, qui 
intraverunt montem Calvariam." 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 243 

a book of historical documents, the latter the Codex 
Statutoruni. Now it is important to note that he went 
away satisfied with the evidence set before him in 1567, 
because, eighteen years later, Franz Mliller copied the 
Brade into a new book, and the old one, that inspected 
by Wier, which dated from 1350, and contained memo- 
randa relating to yet earlier times, disappeared, as Hameln 
things have a trick of doing. The Dotiat, also held to be 
a transcript of one gone before, begins with the thirteenth 
century. Good Pastor Herr made a translation of it in 
the eighteenth, but that, de more, has vanished. In the 
Donat we have examples of dates being accompanied by 
a reference to the " Outgoing", and perhaps these may be 
the instances which impressed themselves on Wier. It 
so, the fact must be regretted, for they have been 
denounced as interpolations and forgeries by competent 
judges.^ The handwriting of the entries and of the 
memorial date are said to differ, and that of the latter 
to be of the sixteenth century. The Brade does contain a 
paragraph anent the children, and that, for many reasons, 
it is important I should quote. It may be Englished 
thus : " In the year 1284, on the day of John and Paul, on 
the 26th day of the month of June, 130 children, born 
in Hameln, were brought out of the town by a piper,, 
dressed in many colours, led through the Osterthor to the 
Koppen by Calvary, and lost." To this effect are all the 
inscriptions I have ever seen, or ever read of anybody else 
seeing in " Hamelin Town" itself, always excepting the 
verses in the Passionate which run " omnes eos vivos 
Calvaria sorpsif , that may be the result of poetical 
licence ; the sober prose gloss attached to them does not 
venture beyond " qui intraverunt montem Calvariuvi\ 

But what of the rats ? Yes, what of the rats ? When 
did they creep into the story t I believe our friend W^ier 
was the first to assert in print that the Piper was actuated 

1 Herr Sebastian Spilker, Junior Councillor of Hameln (1654 ?) 
and Dr. Meinardus in our own time. 

R 2 

'244 T^'^^ Pied Piper oj Hamelin. 

by anger against the town-council for its repudiation of 
his claim as vermin-destroyer. He said it before he went 
to Hameln, in the third edition of De Prcestigus, and after 
his return he repeated it, in the fourth. Now he would 
scarcely have done that if his version had been at variance 
with that current at head-quarters. That he, or we, should 
find the tale of civic chicanery set forth in municipal 
records, and engraven on public buildings, would be to 
expect too much of human nature. But Wier said the 
Piper was hired to entice away glires, dormice ; and 
Kirchner of Fulda — he wrote^ in 1650 — spoke of the folk 
being plagued by mice and shrew-mice {jiiuriuin soricuntgue 
agmtnibus), but in the meantime, 1588, Pomarius had 
introduced his readers to die grosse Ratzen, which infest 
most modern accounts of the comedy that had such tragic 

The question as to the kind of rodent that raged at 
Hameln is one of much interest, though I must not do 
more than glance at it. Rats are rare in folk-tales, I 
believe, and even when there, have often been evolved out 
of original mice. Gubernatis has bare mention of them 
in his Zoological Mythology. Naturalists have taught that 
vius rattus, the black rat, found its way to Europe only 
about the beginning of the sixteenth century, and that the 
brown, vi. decuvianiis, did not reach the western countries 
of the Continent until the middle of the eighteenth. 
How did either contrive to swarm at Hameln some 
hundreds of years before it got there? This is really the 
most incredible part of our story ! Is Science at fault, and 
IS Literature keener at smelling a rat than she } Mo- 
hammed Tabari- says that the voyagers in the Ark were 
put to straits by rats, so Noah passed his hand down the 
back of the lion, who sneezed, and the cat, which did not 
exist before then, leaped out of its nose, and went for the 

^ Quoted by Schoock. 

2 The authority referred to by Baring-Gould, who gives the story in 
Legends of Old Testament Characters^ vol. i, p. 113. 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 245 

rats — but perhaps we have hardly time to go back as far as 
the Deluge. It may suffice to remind the reader of what a 
friend^ has pointed out to me, that, in the eleventh century, 
Norman inures et rati annoyed the blessed Lanfranc,^ 
who on one occasion conveyed a demonstrative cat in a 
bag ad cojuprimendum fiiroruni illoruni ; whilst in the 
twelfth century, Giraldus Cambrensis^ twice mentions. 
iniwes viaj'ores, qui vulgariter rati vocantur. Thirteen 
hundred and sixty-two gave us that notable passage in 
the prologue of Piers the Ploivrnan^ touching the project 
of belling the cat, where we have 

" a route 
Of rn tones at ones 
And smale mys mid hem"; 

and it is plain that the distinction between the two is more 
than one of size or age, because a wise mouse stands forth 
and contrasts the habits of himself and his brethren, the 
masses, with those of the burgher-like rats. It is un- 
necessary to construct a catena of authors from Langland's 
time to Shakespeare's, in order to prove that rats were 
perfectly familiar then, instead of being as strange as bandi- 
coots would now be in London backyards and basements. 
So, in spite of the naturalists, I think there might well 
be rats in Hameln in 1284, and, indeed, the memorable 
swarm may actually mark the epoch of their first appearance 
there. We do not wonder that the civic fathers were 
disturbed, and that somebody was ready to help them out 
of the difficulty ; the trial to faith comes in when we hear 
how he set about it and succeeded. For myself, I frankly 
confess that I do not regard the performance of the " Pied 

1 This was the late E. A. Freeman, D.C.L., etc., who died the week 
after this paper was read. 

- Lanfranci Vita, cap. II in Opera, ed, D'Achery, 1648. 

3 Topographia Hibernica, Dist. II, Cap. xxxii ; Iiine7-arium 
KaKibricE, Lib. 11, Cap. ii. Welshmen nowadays call rats French 
mice, and so do the folk of Connemara. 

* Lines 146-207. 

246 The Pied Piper of Ha7nelin. 

Piper" as being indubitably " a fond thing vainly invented"; 
I want more proof that it is so than the poor thing, 
popular belief. When I was young, oil and troubled water 
were associated only in a figure of speech, supposed to be 
born of the ignorance and poetical exuberance of the 
ancients ; whereas now the rule of oil over the waves is 
considered less questionable than that of Britannia. 
Multa renascentur. That the lower animals are affected 
by musical sounds has been known for centuries ; and rats, 
from what one reads of the rhyming^ of the Irish contin- 
gent, and of the survival of poetical conjurations in France 
and elsewhere,^ may be specially susceptible to the influence 
of the Muses ; if we did but know the Piper's tune, it 
may be fin-de-siede rats would rush forth with the same 
mad eagerness as those of old. The very strain it ought 
to be : " open Barley" had a goodly sound, but it served 
not Cassim's turn when he failed to think of "open 

Our Hameln artist does not stand alone. Once upon a 
time the district about Lorch^ was delivered from ants, 
crickets, and rats by three pipers, who being defrauded of 
the guerdon, played off pigs, sheep, and little ones respec- 
tively ; and in 1240 a Capuchin named Angionini* lured 
into the river all kinds of domestic animals and stock at 
Draucy-les-Nouis near Paris, because the villagers refused 
him the reward for freeing them of rats and mice by 
means of a small book and a little demon. Other cases 
might be found for the comfort of those who, instead of 
agreeing that recurrence of an alleged experience goes to 
confirm the reality of it, regard multiplication of examples 
as tending to the discredit of them all. It is only when 

1 As You Like It, Act iii, Sc. 2, 188; (9/ /'^^//j, Temple's Miscellanea^ 
P. ii, p. 244. 

"^ Rolland, Faune Populaire : Les Mammifcres Sauvages, pp. 24-7. 

^ Cited in Curious Myths, pp. 422, 432, from Wolf's Beitrage zur 
dcutschen Mythologie, i, 171. 

^ Sprenger, p. 16, from Le Corsaire, of December 1824. 

The Pied Piper of Hamehn. 247 

such students have collected half-a-dozen " variants" 
that they feel their incredulity justifiable, range their 
treasure in a " cycle", and account their attitude as being 
truly scientific ! 

If what is told of more than one place, cannot be told 
with truth of any, and what has never happened in our 
time never happened at all, the exodus of the Hameln 
innocents is in " a parlous state". We have just glanced 
at the musical kidnapping of LorclV and Baring-Gould 
also reports how Brandenburg was once visited by a man 
who went fiddling through the streets till he had a troop of 
little listeners whom he wiled to the Marienberg, which 
opened to enclose both him and them. Nearer home, 
according to Dr. Kirkpatrick in The Sea Piece, a narrative, 
philosophical, and descriptive poem published in 1750, a 
like tradition is attached to Cave Hill near Bel fast,^ though 
I believe the memory of it is now grown dim. 

1 Curious Myths, p. 422. 

2 " Here, as Tradition's hoary Legend tells, 

A blinking Piper once with magic Spells 

And Strains beyond a vulgar Bagpipe's sound, 

Gathered the dancing Country wide around ; 

When hither as he drew the tripping Rear 

(Dreadful to think and difficult to swear !) 

The gaping Mountain yawn'd from side to side, 

A hideous Cavern, darksome, deep, and wide ; 

In skipt th' exulting Demon, piping loud. 

With passivejoy succeeded by the Croud ; 

The winding Cavern, trembling, as he play'd, 

With dreadful Echoes rung throughout its Shade; 

There firm and instant clos'd the greedy Womb, 

Where wide-born Thousands met a common Tomb. 

Ev'n now the good Inhabitant relates 

With serious Horror their disastrous Fates ; 

And as the noted Spot he ventures near, 

His Fancy, strung with Tales and shook with Fear, 

Sounds magic Concerts in his tingling Ear ; 

With superstitious Awe and solemn Face, 

Trembling he points, and thinks he points the Place." 

248 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

" A blinking Piper once with magic Spells 
And Strains beyond a vulgar Bagpipe's Sound, 
Gathered the dancing Country wide around," 

and led the way into the gaping, yawning mountain, which 
in due course 

" closed the greedy Womb, 
Where wide-born Thousands met a common Tomb." 

Now the veracity of this tale, and of the rest, is not at 
present my affair ; I must mention them lest I should be 
accused of keeping, what some may consider damaging 
facts, in the background ; but it is my claim for the Hameln 
story, of which we have many data, wanting to the others, 
that it stands alone, and should be judged apart from them. 
There was nothing supernatural, believe me, in the leading 
away of the children, indeed nothing, putting scale out of 
the question, that was not commonplace. Imps continue 
to rush after men, of whom the Pied One is a type ; and, 
when they do not come to grief, let the praise belong to 
the piper. If it be not a thing incredible that in 121 1 "a 
multitude amounting as some say to 90,000 chiefly com- 
posed of children" [" for the most part from Germany"] 
"and commanded by a child, set out for the purpose of 
recovering the Holy Land",^ we may surely swallow the 
assertion that 130 young Hamelners ran away after an 
attractive gaily-garbed musician in 1284. Though mediaeval 
chorea was promoted by fifing and red colours,'^ it is not 
necessary to believe with Meinardus^ that they were 
affected by dancing-mania like the 100 children of Erfurt,* 
who in 1237 skipped and jumped along the road until they 
came to Arnstadt, where they fell to the ground in utter 
exhaustion. Neither do I think the wild rites of Mid- 

1 Hallam's Sfa/e of Europe in the Middle Ages^ vol. ii, p. 359, note. 
- Hecker's Epidemics of the Middle Ages, Part ii, pp. 8, 49. 
^ Die historische Kern, p. 30, etc. I believe Schoock was the first 
to suggest this. 
* Hecker, p. 27. 

The Pied Piper of Hmnelin. 249 

summer, or S. John Baptist's, Eve should bear the blame, 
as three nights had passed between them and the fresh 
morn of the festival of S. John and S. Paul — Roman 
brothers, and Martyrs— when the Piper piped his summons, 
and the joy of many households sped away. Nothing 
more than childish curiosity and excitement, freedom from 
suspicion, carelessness of consequences, was wanted to 
produce the effect. Very ordinary causes brought about 
a kind of Kinderausgang'va London in 1643 ; it led HowelF 
the traveller and letter-writer to relate the Hameln story 
to his correspondent. He prefaces it thus : " I saw such 
prodigious things daily done these few Years past, that I 
had resolved with myself to give over wondering at any- 
thing, yet a passage happened this Week that forced me 
to wonder once more, because it is without parallel. It 
was that some odd Fellows went skulking up and down 
London Streets, and with Figs and Raisins allured little 
Children, and so purloined them away from their Parents 
and carried them a Ship-board far beyond the Sea, where, 
by cutting their Hair, and other Devices, they so disguised 
them that their own Parents could not know them." Given 
another h^<t, and a chronicler of different temperament, 
and these embodiments of diabolic craft had, like the Pied 
Piper, painted a moral and adorned a tale, as Diabolus 

Do I presume too much in hoping that, thus far, you are 
all with me ? I expect to be asked with some sign of 
sarcasm whether the going into the Koppen is also to be 
regarded as a natural occurrence. Certainly not, if into 
must needs imply subterranean entry ; but I take it in the 
sense in which it is familiar to us in the New Testament 
and out of it, when " into a mountain" denotes no more 
than exterior or superficial access, and I stagger not. Love 
of the marvellous and misapprehension were parents of the 
fancy that Bunting and his audience were actually absorbed 

1 Epistolce Ho.—Eliancc,V>. i, Sect. 6, Letter XLIX, dated Fleet, i Oct. 

250 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

by the hill, and it was probably fostered by the misreading 
of Calvaria, a praying-station, as cavaria, a hollow place 
or cave, of which I saw an instance during the preparation 
of this paper. The historical nursemaid, who beheld things 
from afar, must be answerable for something — " I know 
that girl, she comes fra' Sheffield" — whilst the blind boy 
and the mute would add their quota to the wonder. 

Whither Piper and children went, when they vanished 
from sight of the two watchers, into the Koppenberg, it is 
at this time impossible to determine. The leader gained 
a start, gained it in a day when electricity could not head 
a fugitive, and had everything but the number of the 
convoy in his favour. It is as likely as not that the wily 
fellow doubled as soon as the lie of the land furthered his 
purpose, came down to the river and, by pre-arrangement, 
was able to use it as a silent highway, on which the child- 
ren passed easily with the current to some district beyond 
the hue and cry. Once at Bremen there were, what 
Samuel Johnson might call " potentialities" of evasion, on 
which I need not dwell. 

In 1650, Kirchner, a Jesuit, stated on the alleged autho- 
rity of a Transylvanian chronicle^ that the folk of Sieben- 
burge came of the kidnapped Hamelners, and spoke their 
tongue. The theory had been referred to by Verstegan 
nearly half a century before Kirchner's Musurgia Univer- 
salis appeared, but he discredited it, attributed the likeness 
of language to Saxon colonisation of Transylvania by 
Charles the Great, and seems to have known nothing of 
the chronicler relied on by the later writer. " Some doe 
report", says Verstegan,- "that there are divers found 
among the Saxons in Transilvania that have the like 
surnames unto the Burgers of Hamel, and will thereby 
seem to infer that this jugler or pied piper might by negro- 
mancy have transported them thither ; but this carrieth 

^ I gather this from an abstract of Fabula Hamelensis. 
^ I copy from the edition of 1634, but the passage also occurs (I am 
told) in that of 1605. 

The Pied Piper of H ante tin. 251 

but little appearance of truth, because it would have been 
almost as great a wonder unto the Saxons of Transilvania 
to have had so many strange children brought among 
them they knew not how, as it were to those of Hamel to 
lose them ; and they could not but have kept memory of 
so strange a thing, if indeed any such thing had there 

It is not unlikely, I think, that some relic, real or sup- 
posed, of the children found in Siebenberge in the Hameln 
district may have given colour to the belief that they had 
been traced to Siebenbiirge in Transylvania. So a certain 
correspondence led Schoock to imagine that he had found 
the epitaph of the Pied Piper in S. Laurence's, Padua. 
The memorial had been erected by the German nation, 
and the subject of it, a Transylvanian named Valentine 
Graeirus or Bacfort, had died at the age of forty-nine in 
1524; but as his "rare skill in pipe-playing" had led to 
his being "admired as another Orpheus", no one could 
doubt — so thought Schoock — that he was the performer 
usually credited to 1284! 

After all this, is it not somewhat startling to learn, from 
Mrs. Gerard's Land beyond the Forest} that the story of the 
juvenile immigrants is still credited in Transylvania? The 
journey is said to have been performed through subter- 
ranean passages, and the Almesche Hohle, in the north- 
east of the country, is pointed out as being the place where 
the travellers reissued to the light of day. At the village 
of Nadesch^ the arrival of the German ancestors is annually 
commemorated, but I do not feel sure that they are sup- 
posed to have come from Hameln, though Mrs. Gerard 
so expresses herself that I think it not unlikely such may 
be the case. On a particular day all the lads dress up as 
pilgrims and assemble round a flag. Headed by an old 
man, they go about the streets in procession singing psalms, 
stopping to dance and to refresh themselves at intervals. 
When questioned, they say, "Thus came our forefathers, 
1 Vol. i, pp. 52, 54. i" P. 51. 

252 The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

free people like ourselves, from Saxonia into this land, 
behind the flag and drum and with staffs in their hands. 
And because we have not invented this custom, neither did 
our ancestors invent it, but have transmitted it from gene- 
ration to generation, so do we, too, desire to hand it down 
to our children and grandchildren." 

One word in conclusion : I have made great inroad on 
the reader's patience, though I have by no means exhausted 
my subject, and humbly apologise for being as long-winded 
as the Piper, without, at the same time, being able to exercise 
a corresponding charm. 

Eliza Gutch. 


IN his paper on Manx Folk-lore {supra, pp. 74-91), Pro- 
fessor Rhys drew attention to the importance attached to 
the sex orcomplexion of the first person who enters the house 
on New Year's Day. In Man, objection is made to a woman 
or fair man being the first to enter on that day. Con- 
siderable interest was shown in the subject by the speakers 
on Prof Rhys's paper, and a certain amount of evidence 
was forthcoming, showing that a like superstition existed 
in many places in the British Isles. An appeal was 
accordingly made in the last number of FOLK-LORE 
for information on the subject from its readers. The 
Editor cannot report that he has been overwhelmed 
with correspondence on the subject, and some of the letters 
dealt with superstitions somewhat different from the " first- 
foot" — e.g., the custom of giving a handsel to the first 
person met with on the way to a christening ; the habit 
of bringing fresh water into the house on New Year's 
Day, etc. 

Sufficient material has been sent in, however, to make 
the subject both more important and, at the same time, 
more precise. Reserving some of the communications for 
more detailed notice later, we may summarise the informa- 
tion given in the following table, in which the kind of person 
preferred to enter a house as first-foot on New Year's Day 
has been classified. In the few instances no preference 
is expressed, but only the person to be avoided : a 
short line is put where no information is given. It is 
possible, too, that in many of the cases referred to 
there was some preference for either sex, though only 
complexion is mentioned. Our table gives, we believe, 
all the pertinent information in the communications sent. 


''First-Foot in the British Isles. 

Locality and 


Period, if other 
than present 

etc., of Person 
preferred as 

Se.x and Age 





" First- Foot". 

Malvern, 1S77. . 



Mrs. Gutch 

Letter from 

Northallerton . . 


Master of the house 
used to go out few 
minutes before,, 
and re-enter few- 
minutes after 
midnight on Dec. 



Boy ^ 

Worcester and 



Chimneys used to- 


be swept New 
Year's Day for 
this purpose. 

Cornwall . . . . 



Mrs. Gutch 

Standard, ist 
Jan. 1879. 

Used to sand door- 
step and passage 
" for luck". 

Preston .. .. 








A widower ob- 


jected to. 

W. England . . 


Unusual name ob- 
jected to, as it 
prefigured the 
husband's name. 

Yorkshire . . . . 



( Mrs. Gutch 
( E. Clodd 

Morris, Voj-ks. 

Folk- talk, 





( Mrs. Gutch 
\ E. Clodd 


In other districts 

Isle of Man .. 



E. Clodd 

Moore, Folk- 
lore Isle 0/ 
Man, 102-3. 

E . Yorkshire . . 




Nicholson, F. 
L. East 
Yorks., 20. 

Called "lucky 

Bradwell . . . . 



Miss Broad- 

Letter from 

Red-haired man,. 




Miss Craster. 

or one with eye- 
brows joined, ob- 
jected to. 

N. England . . 


C. J. Clark 

Letter from 

Women cannot get 
out a house till a 
man has come in 
on New Year's 




E. Clodd 






T.W. E. Higgens 


Leuchars, Fife 

Red hair and 

W. Anderson 

Letterto W. A. 

See Letter, p. 256. 

Jlat foot 




Merton Coll., 



Women not 
objected to. 



Athlone, 1854 .. 



Rev. J. Ed- 

Letter to Prof. 

women (?) 



Craven, Yorks.. 



Mrs. F. L. 



Mrs. Slingsby. 

^' Fii'st-Foof in the British Isles. 2^^ 

It is obvious from all this that more information, and 
that more definite, is required before coming to any con- 
clusion on the main question raised, whether the " first- 
foot" superstition is a survival of race hatred, or contempt 
for the fairer sex. Especially it is necessary to have 
more direct information derived from persons who can 
be further questioned, rather than from books, which 
probably tell all their authors know. The Editor of FOLK- 
LORE will, therefore, be glad to receive answers to the 
following series of questions about the " First-Foot" : 

1. Is any belief or custom associated with the first 

person who enters the house on New Year's Day 
(or any other specific day) } [Call such person 

2. Should the first-foot be man or woman ? 

3. Should the first-foot be dark or fair } 

4. Is a red-haired first-foot considered very unlucky .'' 

5. Is a flat-footed first-foot considered unlucky } 

6. Must the first-foot bring any gift into the house? 

7. What kind of things must be brought into the house 

on New Year's Day .'' 

8. Must something be brought in on New Year's Day 

before anything can be carried out .'' 

Answers to these questions, giving name and address of 
informant, should be sent to the Editor, at the office of 
Folk- Lore, 270, Strand, before Aug. i, marked First- Fool 
on the envelope. 

Meanwhile we may proceed to print two papers on the 
subject that deal with it at some length ; one by Prof. 
Rhys, who started the inquiry, and has collected further 
information about it, and the other an ingenious sugges- 
tion as to the origin of the custom, which was read before 
the Folk-lore Society. 

:;6 ''First-Foof in the British Isles. 

Notes on the First-Foot and Allied 

It gives me great pleasure to be able to respond to the 
Editor's appeal by presenting for publication in FOLK- 
LORE the following contributions which I have received 
from friends of mine interested in the question of the " first- 
foot". I may mention first a friend of Mr. Craigie's, of Oriel 
College here, who writes to him from his native neighbour- 
hood of Leuchars as follows : 

" In Fife, we object to red hair and flat feet, but not to women, 
so far as I know. Carrying in a knife or a pointed tool is very 
bad, and, of course, borrowing or lending on that day is impos- 
sible. To give fire out of the house would be disastrous. I 
shall make further inquiries, but our custom is to carry in food 
and drink when first-footing. Empty hands are doubly disas- 
trous." — W. Anderson. 

There is no objection to a woman as a first-foot, Mr. 
Craigie tells me, in Forfarshire ; he has heard women saying 
to their neighbours, " Fll come and first-foot you ; mind 
you, I have a lucky foot." The favourite thing to take is 
a red herring, but it is somewhat regarded as a joke, and 
if you arrive before the family is up, which is very probable, 
as the first-foot sets out usually soon after twelve, you may 
tie the red herring to the door-handle. The first-foot is 
not unfrequently trysted, in other words, arranged for 
beforehand. The usual thing in the town of Dundee is 
for the first-foots to muster in the High Street, which they 
do in such numbers that the place is crowded. When it 
strikes twelve, they skail in all directions, and there is a 
special tramcar to take some of them to Lochee, a suburb 
about two miles off, the idea being that it is the right thing 
to await the new year in the High Street. 

Handsel Monday, i.e., first Monday after New Year's 
Day, or that day itself (in case it be Monday), is the day 
for making presents. Christmas Day was formerly of no 

First-Foof in the British Isles. 257 

account in Forfarshire, but Mr. Craigie has heard of the 
Aberdeenshire people keeping " Yeel", i.e., Yule, on Jan. 5, 
or Christmas Day, Old Style, which he puts down to a 
probable Norse element in the population. 

The Gaelic festival in Dundee is always held on Jan. 12, 
if possible (for they try to have it on a Friday^: this means 
Jan. I, Old Style. Mr. Craigie, however, wrote^to me next 
day to modify this, in the following terms, and the correc- 
tion is very instructive as to the struggle going on, so to say, 
between the old Celtic year and the Roman calendar : 

" I remembered yesterday that I had made a slight mistake in 
what I had said about the Gaelic Festival in Dundee. The 
regular meeting was, and is, held on or near Nov. 12 {i.e., 
Oidhche Samhna, Old Style), and the one on Jan. 12 or so was 
an extra one, which has been given up for some time now. The 
' Hallow-E'en' one still goes on. 

" We, of course, call the day before the New Year, Hogmanay 
(in Gaelic, Oidhche Callain). The old New Year's Day is pretty 
well given up in the Lowlands now. 

" In a number of The Gael (a magazine which came out from 
1871-77) there was a list of the different seasons of the year 
according to the Celtic calendar, with the places of all the chief 
days, like Beltane, Samhuinn, etc., given." — W. A. Craigie. 

The next communication (dated March 29, 1892) is from 
the Rev. John M. Gillington, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight : 

" My acquaintance with the custom is on this wise :— When I 
was assistant-curate of St. Peter's, Athlone, the ist Royal 
Regiment was in barracks there. This regiment was originally 
the Royal Scots Guards, the body-guard of the Scottish kings. 
They came to London with James VI, when he became King of 
England, Eventually they became the ist Regiment of Foot in 
the Standing Army. 

"When they ceased to be formed of Scotchmen, I have no 
idea, but when I knew them they had nothing Scotch about 
them except the regimental traditions. These are kept up, and 
amongst them the custom of first-foot. I lodged in the house of 
a widow of a sergeant-major of that corps. He had served with 

VOL. III. s 

258 ''First-Foot'' in the British Isles. 

it at Waterloo, and she had told me of the traditions among 

"On the last night of 1854, I was sitting up till midnight, 
reading, when, just as the clock struck twelve, I was startled by 
an uproar breaking out in the neighbouring barracks, shouts, and 
beating of drums. I thought a fire had broken out, and threw 
open the window ; but I then perceived that the shouts were of 
hilarity, and mixed with laughter, while the band was playing a 
lively tune up and down the barrack-square. 

" While I was wondering what all this could mean, my room- 
door opened, and two of the girls of the house came in with cake 
and wine, exclaiming that they were first-foot in my quarters. 
Then it all came back to my mind what their mother had told 
me — how that everybody rushed into everybody's house or room, 
bearing cake, wine, or whiskey, each striving to be first-foot, first 
in the house or quarters on New Year's Day. All together 
uproariously partook of the refreshments brought in. Some 
people were reckoned to bring good luck to the house for the 
rest of the year ; some were accredited with being unlucky first- 
foots. This was the custom as kept up by tradition in the ist 
Royals, which had been Scotch 250 years before. 

" Afterwards I heard of it amongst Scotch people of a higher 
grade, who observed it, but with more decorum and propriety, 
perhaps. They told me that they knew well-educated people who 
looked out anxiously as to who should be first-foot in their house, 
and would turn pale if a person whose luck was doubtful should 
be the first to come in." 

My next correspondent is Mr. Tierney, of the Welsh- 
man Office, Carmarthen, who writes as follows : 

"I see that you have been speaking of a Manx prejudice 
against_/?a/ feet. I expect that must be a strong prejudice in the 
really Irish parts of Ireland, for, in the most Anglicised part of 
Ulster, where my boyhood was spent, no 'clane' peasant-girl 
with her wits about her would dream of marrying a flat-footed 
' boy', unless there were very strong temptations to do so. Not 
only flat feet, but anything like bandy legs, would deter a girl from 
marrying a man. 

"When two young fellows are rivals for the hand of one of 

'' First-Foof in the British Isles, 259 

these fair damsels, the one who can speak of the other as ' that 
flat-footed craythur' is pretty sure to win, although the flat-footed 
man may have three acres and a cow, and the other ' nothing 
but the rags on his back'. So strong is the feeling, and so deep 
is the impression made by this prejudice, that, although I have 
not been a fortnight in Ireland for the past twenty years or 
nearly, I can hardly help nmv feeling, when people look down- 
wards to where I stand, that they are inspecting my feet. You 
see I am, for the most part, of Teutonic descent, and, I sup- 
pose, a tendency to flat-footedness is one of the results of that 

" Another is that I have reddish hair, and that was another 
cause of heart-burning. The red-haired people, even in Ulster 
(it may be worse elsewhere, but I don't know — yes, I know it 
is worse in Connaught, where they are savagely disliked), are all 
" Danes" or foreigners of some kind, who can never, somehow, 
come to be liked in a brotherly way, or altogether trusted. I 
inherit my ruddy locks from a Carkton family ; though many 
Welsh people, when told where I was born, suppose it to be a 
mark of Gwyddel blood. Even if it were, it would be just as 
bad in Ireland as if it were Saxon or Norman. Red-haired men 
are bad, but to meet a red-haired woman as you go out on any 
important journey, is such a terrible omen — or was in some 
parishes in my boyhood — that the man who will not turn back 
home again, must have nerve enough to face the devil. 

" This mention of the Gwyddel reminds me that, although the 
Welsh make the term synonymous with ' Irish', the Goidels can 
never have been numerous in Ireland — or, if they were, the 
conquering race has grown very scarce — almost died out. Is it 
not held that the genuine Cymry, although they gave Wales their 
language, and taught the original dolichocephalic people to call 
themselves Cymry too, were but a hardy /^?f^.? I do not know 
enough of these things to be sure whether you are one of those 
who hold the Cymry to be scarce in Cymru at the present day. 

1 Mr. Tierney is joking : since this letter was written I have had 
the pleasure of meeting him, but I do not recollect staring at his 
" understandings". I conclude that there is nothing peculiar about 

S 3 

26o "■ First -FooV in the British Isles. 

"I have a theory — perhaps others have it without my knowledge, 
and perhaps it may seem utterly foolish to you, but I assure you 
I could write a whole volume in support of it— that whether the 
Gwyddyl were numerous in Ireland, and the Cymry in Wales, or 
not, it would not have altered matters very much ; that they are, 
more or less, like the Teutons, an artificial race, which can only 
be kept up to the proper level of existence by favourable circum- 
stances and surroundings ; that the Httle old dark race have, like 
the Welsh black cattle, reached the degree of development which 
Nature, under ordinary conditions, will tolerate ; that they have 
already nearly stamped the Gwyddyl out in Ireland, and the Cymry 
in Wales, and that they will in time clear the Teutons out as well, 
becoming once more full possessors of Britain." 

To begin at the end of the foregoing letter, I may observe 
that the writer is by no means alone in his idea, that the 
purer Aryan element in Celtic countries is decreasing 
numerically, Penka for instance, gives his readers reasons 
for believing that the tall, blond, blue-eyed Aryan has lost 
ground since the early Middle Ages in North Italy, in 
France, and one might probably add Spain ; but I am 
only reproducing Penka's views very roughly, as it is some 
time since I read them. I shall, however, not be misrepre- 
senting him, when I say that he regards the Aryans as a 
northern people who in the long run have no chance in the 
competition for existence in certain tracts of Europe, as 
against the smaller and duskier aborigines, with thousands 
of years more of acclimatisation to the credit of their 
race. I have been for some time of opinion that in the 
population of Wales we have, at the present day, but a 
very small Aryan element. Our Aryans in the Principality 
were very lively in the time of Sir John Wynn of Gwydyr : 
one of their amusements appears to have been to burn one 
another's houses about their owners' ears ; but they fared 
badly in the days of Cromwell, and ever since they seem 
to have been dwindling in numbers and importance in 
proportion to the representatives of the aboriginal race. I 
picture to myself the Welsh Aryan as a fine tall fellow 

''First-Foot''' in the British Isles. 261 

with a somewhat aquiline nose, and a complexion rather 
less blond than I should expect in the case of a Teutonic 
Aryan. He has a landed estate or traditions about one 
that ought to be his, and he boasts a long pedigree. 

This talk of mine about races threatens to put wholly- 
cut of sight the question a propos of which it began, 
namely, that of the superstition about flat feet. So I return 
to the Manx qualtagh, and my suggestion of his being to 
some extent a race representative, and I may mention that, 
one day last term, I read my remarks on the difference 
between Welsh and English feet, as shown in the matter of 
shoes, at a meeting of about a dozen Welsh undergraduates. 
They all agreed with me that English shoes did not, as a 
rule, fit Welsh feet, and this because they are made too low 
in the instep : I ought to have said that they all agreed 
except one undergraduate, who held his peace. He is a tall 
man of no dark complexion, and I have never dared to 
look in the direction of his feet since, lest he should detect 
me cruelly carrying my comparisons to extremes. In the 
Manx paper referred to, I suggested that perhaps the flatness 
of the feet of the one race was not to be emphasized so much 
as the height of the instep in those of the other. I find 
this way of looking at the question somewhat countenanced 
in an appreciative article which appeared on the 29th 
March in the Liverpool Post, in reference to my remarks 
and the discussion elicited by them. The writer refers to 
Henderson's notes on the Folk-lore of the Northern Counties, 
and quotes a passage referring more particularly to Northum- 
berland, as follows : "In some districts, however, special 
weight is attached to the ' first-foot' being that of a person 
with a high-arched instep, a foot that ' water runs under'. 
A flat-footed person would bring great ill-luck for the 
coming year." Before leaving this, there is another point I 
wish to mention : the writer of the article considers that 
Dr. Karl Blind's experience as a South German, that an 
English shoemaker does not make his shoes high enough 
in the instep, and his admission that North Germans "have, 

262 "• First-Foof in the British Isles. 

perhaps, slightly flatter feet" than those of the South, spoils 
my suggestion as to race. This struck me as rather strange, 
as I flattered myself that Dr. Blind's words were entirely on 
my side. The explanation is that 1 took for granted that 
nobody now regards the bulk of the South Germans as of 
the same race as the tall, light-haired people of North 
Germany, or the Teutonic element of a somewhat similar 
type in this country. If, therefore. Dr. Blind's words have 
been accurately reported, I claim the benefit of them for 
my suggestion as to a race-distinction underlying the Manx 
superstition concerning the qualtagJi ; but as to that sugges- 
tion itself, I must confess that I attach but little importance 
to it. It is gratifying to me, however, that it is likely to 
lead to an exhaustive discussion of the subject on the basis 
of an ampler collection of facts. 

John Rhys. 

Oxford^ April i8th, 1892. 

Notes on the First-Foot Superstition. 

It has generally been considered that the first-foot 
superstition originated in the warfare of races, and that 
race is the distinctive feature. May it not be sex? 

There are no superstitions apart from this one which 
imply that it is unlucky to meet an enemy on New Year's 
Day. There are superstitious reasons why a ivoman should 
not be met. 

We should not dissociate this superstition from others 
connected with New Year's Day. 

We find that a great many customs and superstitions 
connected with New Year's Day are also observed on May 
Day.— A. 

The ceremiony of the Claivie-burning (FoLK-LORE, 1891, 
p. 19) belongs to a cycle of superstitious customs common 
to both days.— A. B. 

Some of the details of these ceremonies find parallels in 

'' First-Foof' in the British Isles. 26 


a Kolarian festival, to propitiate the Rain goddess {Priuii- 
tive Folk, p. 332). — C. B. 

The Kolarian festival contains a trace of the Godi\a 
ceremony. — C. 

The Roumanians observe the ceremony in time of 
drought {Nineteenth Century, July 1885). — C. D. 

In Pembrokeshire, people sprinkle each other on New 
Year's Day ; and in Siam there is a " Water Feast" on 
New Year's Day, when people drench each other {Church 
Times, ] din. 15, 1892). — C. 

In India, in time of drought, women have been known 
to strip themselves, and men have been kept out of the 
way, in case they brought trouble on the village by prying 
{Science of Fairy Tales, p. 84). — D. 

The Western Innoits, and also the Apache Indians, 
celebrate a hunting-festival on New Year's Day. The 
sexes are separated, and curiosity by the opposite sex is 
punishable by death {Primitive i^c/,^, pp. 92 and 138). — 
D. E. 

The presence of women at these festivals would destroy 
the efficacy of the rites (FOLK-LoRE, 1 891, pp. 426 and 439). 
— D. E. 

In the Isle of Lewis (Scotland), a woman was not per- 
mitted to cross the river until a man had crossed, or she 
would frighten away the fish. — E. 

The evidence seems to point in the following directions, 
viz. : 

A. The overlapping of the folk-lore of New Year's 
Day and May Day seems to show that the latter day was 
once the commencement of the New Year. 

B. The survival of similar sacrificial rites on New Year's 
Day and May Day seem to show that the New Year was 
ushered in by a great festival, to propitiate the goddess of 
the Waters. 

C. The identity between these survivals and existing 
heathen propitiatory sacrifices to the Rain goddess seem 

264 '' First-FooC in the British Isles. 

to show that the New Year's festival contained similar rites 
and sacrifices. 

D. The traces in the folk-lore survivals of these cere- 
monies, and also in the prevailing heathen rites of a 
procession of women in a state of nudity, give evidence 
of the separation of sexes at this New Year's festival. 

E. The existence of certain New Year's hunting- 
festivals, at which the presence of women would reiider 
nugatory the efficacy of the rites, and also the fact that 
it is considered that men prying at the women's proces- 
sions before referred to would bring evil upon the village, 
are evidence to show that the presence of the opposite sex 
has been considered unlucky on New Year's Day. 

T. W. E. HiGGENS. 



To the Editor of FOLK-LORE. 

Sir, — The frequency with which " The Widow's Son" 
appears as the hero of folk-tale and folk-song has often 
excited remark, and appears to require some explanation. 
This may, perhaps, be attempted in a comparison of the 
Greek songs and tales dealing with the exploits of this 

The Enchanted Deer. 
(Passow, No. 576, Greek Foik-sofigs, p. 85.) 

In this song a hero named Digenes is represented as possessing 
superhuman strength, and as having for his companions the 
Drake's son, and Tremantahielos, " who shakes the earth and 

The Death of Digenes. 
(Jeannaraki, No. 92.) 
In this tristich all nature is represented as sympathetically 
affected by the death-throes of the hero. 

Digenes and his Mother. 
(Jeannaraki, No. 276.) 
Digenes is here represented as a widow's son, who alone is 
valiant enough to accept the challenge of Charon to a wrestling- 
match, and who is vanquished only by trickery on the part of his 

The Widow's Sons. 
(Passow, No. 514, Women of Turkey, i, p. 129.) 

These two heroes fight with, and slay a monster (Stoicheion) 
which has destroyed every champion hardy enough to attack it. 

266 Correspondence. 


(Aravandinos, No. 460.) 
A widow's son accepts the challenge of Tsamathbs, a super- 
human being who is represented as making the earth to tremble 
with his tread, and as bearing on his shoulder an uprooted tree, 
from the branches of which dangle wild beasts. The widow's son 
prevails against Tsamathbs, who begs him to desist and declare 
who are his parents. The youth replies that his mother was a 
widow when he was born, but that he resembles his father, and 
intends to surpass him in prowess. Tsamathbs goes with him to 
the house of the widow, and is by her poisoned at supper. 

The Story of the Beardless. 
(Yiib-iWrivixa ' A\ia.Xi7ira, A. 10.) 
In this story a widow's son, on questioning his mother con- 
cerning his father, is sent by her, according to the orders of the 
latter, to the distant city of which he is king. 

As the name Acyevr)<i signifies "of two races" or "species", 
it appears, I venture to think, highly probable that these 
stories of " Widows' Sons" may point to some such inter- 
course between higher and lower races as that suggested 
by Mr. Stuart-Glennie. Another allusion to difference 
of race is found in the " Beardless Man" — that is to say, a 
man with one of the most distinctive characteristics of 
the Mongolian and Negro, as distinguished from the White 

Lucy M. Garnett. 


To tJie Editor of FoLK-LORE. 
Sir, — My attention has just been drawn to Mr. Sidney 
Hartland's " Report on Folk-tale Research", in the last 
number of FOLK-LoRE, in which he remarks that I have 
failed to give the sources of some of the tales contained 
in The Women of Turkey. Will you allow^ me to say that 

Cor7'espondence. 267 

some of the stories were collected by myself, including 
that of the pastounnd specially referred to by Mr. Hart- 
land, which I heard, with many others, from His Excellency 
Zohrah Bey ? A variant of it may also be found in vol. 
xxviii of Les Littcratures populaires. The Jewish stories 
of which the source is not given are from Frankl's Jeivs in 
the East, the references to which were, by some oversight, 
omitted. Two of them, however, " Oslemedai and King 
Solomon" and " Rabbi Ahiba", are, I believe, to be found 

in the Talmud. 

L. M. Garnett. 

To the Editor of FOLK-LORE. 

Sir, — I trust that I may be allowed to say — and with 
reference more particularly to p. 121 of Mr. Sidney Hart- 
land's interesting " Report on Folk-tale Research" — that I 
think our terminology would be greatly improved if those 
Anthropologists who make much of the fact of the hetero- 
geneity of human races were, as Ethnologists, distinguished 
from those who, like, for instance, Dr. Tylor, expressly 
ignore that fact, or deny its importance. 

J. S. Stuart-Glennie. 


To the Editor of FoLK-LORE. 

Sir, — Perhaps the following parallel may interest )'Our 
readers. I do not think it has been previously pointed 
out: — Conon (in Photius, Bibliothcca, § 33, p. 136 — ed. 
Bekker, 1824) : co? o S/xiKfio^ tivo<; tmv ivMiXrjaioL^ ivSo^cov 
dvyarepa <ya[xel, koI av77] TLKrovaa opa oyjnv, rov i]\.lov avrfj 
Sta rov aTOfxaro^ elahvvra 8ia t?}? <yaaTp6<i Kal tcop aLOOiwv 
BiG^eXdetv Kol rjv to 6pa/xa rot? fxavrecrLP dyadov kui. ereKe 

268 Co7'7'espondence, 

Kopov, Updy-^^ov airo rov ovelpov KoXeaaaa, ore 6 i^Xwi avrrj^ 
hia Tou (Spcuyy^ov Si6^f]\6€. 

I have found a close parallel to this in a note of Liebrecht's 
(Gervasius von Tilbury, ed. F. Liebrecht, Hanover, 1856, 
p. 72) ; " Mirkond rapporte suivant les traditions des 
peuples de la Scythie que cette princesse [namlich Alan- 
kava ou Alancova, fille de Gioubine, tils de Bolduz, roi des 
Mongols de la dynastie ou famille de Kiot] etant eveillee 
dans sa chambre, pendant la nuit, une grande lumiere 
I'investit tout d'un coup, lui entra dans le corps par la 
bouche. Ce phenomene ayant peu apres disparu, Alancava 
se trouva fort surprise de cette apparition: mais elle le 
fut encore beaucoup plus, lorsqu'elle s'aper^ut qu'elle etait 
grosse, sans qu'elle eut connu aucun homme. Le trouble 
que lui causa cet evenement, lui fit aussitot convoquer une 
assemblee de ses sujets, qui etaient tous tres persuades de 
sa sagesse : cependant comme elle les trouva fort etonnes 
de la nouveaute de ce fait, et qu'ils en parlaient diverse- 
ment entr'eux, Alankava, pour dissiper tous les soup^ons 
que Ton pouvait former contre son honnetete, fit venir les 
principaux d'entr'eux et les enfermant dans sa chambre, les 
rendit temoins oculaires de ce qui s'y passait toutes les 
nuits. . . . Enfin, le terme de cette grossesse etant arrive, 
elle accoucha de trois enfants. Le premier fut nomme 
Boukoun Cabaki, duquel les Tartares nommes Cabakin 
et Kapgiak sont descendus. Le second eut nom Bouskin 
Salegi, duquel les Selgiucides ont tire leur origine; et le 
troisieme fut appelle Bouzangir, lequel est reconnu pour un 
des aieuls de Geughiskan et de Tamerlan." " Khondemir 
ajoute a cette narration, que la merveille qui arriva dans la 
grossesse d'Alankava, est la meme qui s'est rencontree 
dans celle de Miriam, mere d'Issa." — UHerbelot^s. v. Alan- 

The phenomenon is exactly the same in both cases. 
Legends of sun-impregnation are well known : it would 
be superfluous to give instances. J. G. Frazer, TJie 
Golden Bough (1890), ii, 225 ff., gives several examples. He 

Co7^7'espondence. 269 

connects the taboo laid on girls at puberty, which forbids 
them to see the sun, with this belief, and so explains the 
myth of Danae, comparing it especially with a parallel in 
Siberian legend, given by Radloff, Der ttirk. Stdinme Siid- 
Siberiens, iii, 82 sq. 

Frazer also cites Gonzenbach, Sicilianische Mdrchen, 
No. 28 ; Bastian, Die Volker des ostl. Asien, i, 416; vi, 25 ; 
Turner, Samoa, p. 200 ; Panjab Notes and Qturies, ii, 
No. 797, for sun-impregnation. Traces of the belief exist 
in the ceremonial of marriage (Frazer, /. c.\ in the old 
Hindoo marriages, the bride on the previous day was 
made to look upon the sun; and among the Turks of 
Siberia, in Iran, and Central Asia, the young couple are 
led out of their hut on the morning after marriage to greet 
the rising sun, whose beams are believed to ensure fer- 
tility; quoting Vambery, Das Tiirken Volk, p. 112 ; Monier 
Williams, Religious Life and TJwught in India, p. 354 ; 
Trans, of the EtJinological Society, iii, 327). May not our 
proverb, " Blest is the bride on whom the sun doth shine" 
(Herrick), go back to a like belief? 

I have not been able to find other instances in which the 
sunbeam enters the mouth. A beam came out of Charles 
the Great's mouth, and illumined his head (Grimm, D. M., 
Eng. trans., p. 323, according to a story in the G alien 
restore). Liebrecht (/. c.) compares with the Alankava 
story the passage of Pliny (xxxvi, 70, 204, Detlefsen) 
describing the birth of Servius Tullius as connected with 
the sacred fire on the hearth (so Dion. Halic, 4, 2). 

A. E. Crawley. 


The next number of FOLK-LORE will contain a paper 
by the Hon. J. Abercromby, an " Analysis of the Magic 
Songs of the Finns" ; " South African Legends," by Rev. 
James Macdonald ; " The Value of Old-French Literature in 
the Study of Folk-lore," by Prof A. Wilmotte ; and some 
" Scraps of Folk-lore," by Prof Rhys. 

A MEETING of the International Folk-lore Council was 
held on May nth, under the presidency of the Chairman 
of the Council, Mr. G. L. Gomme. It was decided to 
recommend that the next meeting of the International 
Folk-lore Congress should take place in 1894. Negotia- 
tions are now being conducted as to the most suitable place 
of meeting. 

Arrangements are being made for having a day 
devoted to Folk-lore at the approaching August meeting 
of the British Association. Members of the Folk-lore 
Society desirous of sending papers are requested to com- 
municate their intention to the Secretary of the Folk-lore 
Society, who will submit the suggestions to a special Com- 
mittee which is arranging the programme. 

An important conference is about to be held between 
delegates of the Anthropological Institute, Folk-lore 
Society, and Society of Antiquaries, in order to discuss the 
possibility of making an ethnographic survey of the British 
Isles, and of ascertaining the anthropometric, archaeolo- 
gical, and customary traces of the various races that have 
inhabited these isles. Messrs. Clodd, Gomme, and Jacobs 
have been appointed delegates from the Folk-lore 

Notes and News. 271 

The movement for establishing local Folk-lore Com- 
mittees for each of the English counties has taken great 
strides. The Committee for Leicestershire and Rutland 
has been already constituted, and those for Gloucester, 
Lancashire, Lincoln, Norfolk, and Suffolk are in process 
of formation. 

Besides the local Committees, individual workers are 
now at work collecting from printed sources the folk-lore of 
various counties, on the model of Mr. Hartland's collection 
for Gloucestershire, already issued to members of the Folk- 
lore Society. Miss Dendy has undertaken Lancashire ; 
Lady Camilla Gurdon and Mr. E. Clodd, Suffolk ; Mr. 
Emslie, Middlesex ; Mr. Billson, Leicestershire ; and Mr. 
Gerish, Norfolk. 

We have to welcome another Folk-lore Society, and we 
do so the more readily that it is in an English-speaking 
country, indeed in a British colony. At a meeting in 
Montreal, a Canadian Folk-lore Society was formed, with 
Mr. John Reade, one of the members of the English 
Society, as the Hon. Secretary. 

The Denhain Tracts^ vol. i, have been passed for press, 
and will be shortly issued as the remaining part of the 
Folk-lore Society's publications for 1891. 

Covers for Folk-Lore, vol, ii, can be obtained on 
application to the Publisher, Mr. David Nutt, 270, Strand. 

Communications for the next number of Folk-Lore 
must reach the Office, 270, Strand, on or before August ist. 



An Evening Meeting was held at 32, Albemarle Street, W., on 
Wednesday, March 9th, 1892. The President (Mr. G. L. Gomme, 
F.S.A.) in the chair. 

The Minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed. 

The following new members were elected, viz. : Mr. W. B. Gerish, 
Mr. M. Longworth Dames, Miss Lucy E. Broadwood, and the Guild- 
hall Library. 

Mrs. Gomme exhibited some Twelfth Cakes from Falmouth ; and 
the Chairman a Rope Ring, sent him by Mr. Watkins. 

A short paper on " The First-foot Superstition" was read by Mr. 
T. W. E. Higgens, and a discussion followed, in which Dr. Gaster, 
Messrs. Nutt and Clodd, and the Chairman took part. 

Mrs. Gutch then read a paper on " The Pied Piper of Hamelin", 
and a discussion followed, in which Dr. Gaster, Mr. Nutt, and the 
Chairman took part. 

An Evening Meeting was held at 22, Albemarle Street, on Wed- 
nesday, April 13th, 1892. The President (Mr. G. L. Gomme) in the 

The Minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed. 

The following announcements were made, viz. : 

Death— Mr. W. Harrison. Resigftafion—Mr . W. F. St. John. 
New Members — Messrs. J. Davidson, W. J. Knowles, F. A. Milne, 
F. D. Mocatta, A. E. Crawley, and the Chicago Folk-lore Society. 

The Hon. J. Abercromby read a paper entitled " An Analysis of 
some Finnish Songs on the Origin of Things", and a discussion 
followed, in which the President and Mr. Jacobs took part. 

The Rev. James Sibree then read his paper on " Divination among 
the Malagasy ; together with native ideas as to Fate and Destiny", 

Folk-lore Society. 273 

illustrating it by diagrams ; and the President having expressed his 
thanks to Mr. Sibree for his paper, the meeting terminated with a 
hearty vote of thanks to him. 

An Evening Meeting was held at 22, Albemarle Street, on Wed- 
nesday, May nth, 1892. The President (Mr. G. L. Gomme) in the 

The Minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed. 

The following announcements were made, viz. : 

Resignations — Rev. E. P. Larken and Rev. F. H. J. McCormick. 
New Members — Mr. J. K. Hudson, Mr. Llywarch Reynolds, Mr. E. 
Foster, and Mr. Stuart-Glennie. 

A short paper, entitled " Miscellania", was read by Mr. M. J. Wal- 
house, and a discussion followed, in which Mr. Kirby, Mr. Leveson- 
Gower, and the President took part. 

The Secretary then read a short paper by Professor Rhys ; after 
which Professor Tcheraz read a paper on " Armenian Folk-lore", 
which was followed by a discussion, in which Mr. Clodd, Mr. Hago- 
pian, and the President took part. 

The meeting terminated with a hearty vote of thanks to the authors 
and readers of the several papers. 



Exorcism in Wales. — Some time about the year 1845, that is, when 
I was about ten years of age, so far as I can recollect, there was a house 
called Penhelyg, near Aberdovey, Merionethshire, haunted by some 
supposed evil spirits, which made such a disturbance, especially at 
night, that the old man and woman who lived there could not sleep. 
The old man met my father one day, and said both he and his wife 
were perfectly worn out and exhausted for want of sleep ; they had 
sent for their children to return home from London, but it would not 
be possible for them to arrive within a week. None of their neigh- 
bours would stay with them after dark, fearing the evil spirit. If I 
remember rightly, there was a maidservant with them who was sup- 
posed to be faithful, and to have no part in causing the disturbance. 
The extraordinary noises, the rattling of the crockery as if they were 
all breaking, the throwing of crockery from the shelves across the 
kitchen on to a table opposite, without breaking any, etc., went on 
in the absence of the maid as well as in her presence. My father 
told the old man he feared no spirit, and would go and sit up there 
next Saturday night, so that the old people might have no care or 
fear, but compose themselves to rest and sleep. The old man was 
extremely grateful, and my father went there accordingly. After 
the old people and the maid retired, my father occupied himself chiefly 
in reading different parts of the Bible bearing upon the Sunday-school 
lessons in which he was always much interested, and in making notes 
upon the subjects of the forthcoming lessons. During the early part 
of the night he repeatedly heard the usual noises, and he thought he 
saw some of the crockery moved ; but he concentrated his mind as 
much as he could upon his own work, and was entirely indifferent as 
to the phenomena of the supposed spirits. I remember very well 
hearing him tell my mother next day, and me many times since, that 
nothing was further from his mind than to do or say anything to put a 
stop to the disturbance, and he never even in thought asked God to 
interfere. He had not the slightest personal fear, and his mood was 
to treat the whole thing with contempt and indifference. He had no 
theory as to the cause of the noises, but he was certain in his own 
mind that no incorporeal spirit could injure him in any way, and he 
had the reputation of having the strongest arms and heaviest 



fists in the country, so he feared no human being. However, the 
disturbance never recurred after that night, not in any way, either by 
noises nor by removing the crockery, and many people could not be 
persuaded that father did not in some way or other exorcise the spirit 
by reading the Bible. Father always said there was nothing in what 
he read bearing upon spirits haunting houses, so far as he could under- 
stand, nor was there anything of the kind in what he wrote there that 

A few years before the above-mentioned incident, or about 1842, 
the house of a relation of mine at Barmouth was haunted in a similar 
Avay by noises, as if all the crockery in the cupboards and on the 
shelves were breaking, and other noises in different places which 
could not be accounted for. This went on for many weeks. A well- 
known conjurer and exorcist was sent for, but he failed to put a stop 
to the disturbance, which got so bad at last that all the family — ■ 
parents, children, and maids — left the house one night for refuge at 
the house of a relation who lived near. But as soon as they arrived 
there similar noises commenced in the corner cupboard of that house. 
Then, from mere bravado, the children said they would make as much 
noise as the spirit, so they got sticks and hammered the floors and 
doors and tables and tin kettles, etc., until the spirit-noise in the corner 
cupboard ceased, and for some time after. I was often told by them 
they made a regular Bedlam, merely from bravado to drown the noises 
of the " spirit". The " spirit", or whatever it was, never disturbed 
them after that night ; they returned to their own house next morning, 
and never heard a repetition of the noises. 

For many years before and after 1845 there lived an apothecary 
not beyond twelve miles from Machynlleth, who went to Machynlleth 
every market- and fair-day to meet his customers and patients. I 
shall not mention his name, nor where he lived, because some of his 
descendants are highly and deservedly respected I shall call him 
Mr. H. (Humbug). He became noted as one having power to exor- 
cise evil spirits which caused disease to man and beast by witchcraft. 
I remember an old woman who had a chronic sore on the bridge of 
her nose, and I was told many times it was Mr. H. who caused it by 
his incantations to mark her and to check her, because she was a 
witch. Mr. H. was a deacon of the church to which he belonged. 
On one occasion he was severely called to account at a church- 
meeting for his dealings with evil spirits and witchcraft. He solemnly 
denied the charge, but he had to confess that many people came to 
him, believing he could conjure or exorcise evil spirits, and he found 

T 2 

2/6 Miscellanea. 

it was useless for him to tell them he had no such power, so, in order 
to ease their minds, he wrote certain passages in Latin with hieroglyphic 
signs, which they used as charms, and they paid him willingly, much 
more willingly than for rational medicine. There was another elder 
of the same church who had a cow which he thought was bewitched, 
because she had been in ill-health for a long time, and no one could 
tell for certain what the disease was. He returned home late one 
Sunday night and told his son he had consulted Mr. H. that night 
about the cow, and Mr. H. had written a charm on paper, which 
paper was to be given to the cow without delay in a pint of hot gruel. 
The charmed paper would drive the evil spirit of witchcraft out of the 
cow. The old man was too tired to prepare the gruel and give the 
charmed paper himself to the cow, as he had promised Mr. H., there- 
fore he went to bed, and instructed his son to give the paper to the 
cow. His son prepared the gruel and gave it to the cow, but he 
retained the charmed paper and brought it to my father next morning, 
with a history as related above, and the history of the cow. The son 
had no belief in witchcraft, nor in Mr. H., but he dare not let his own 
father know that he disobeyed the instruction of Mr. H. My father 
gave me the charmed paper, and I know I had it with other docu- 
ments of a similar character since my return from India in 1886, but I 
cannot find them now. It commenced with "Abracadabra'" and signs 
of the Zodiac, then quoted verses from the Bible, Psalms, and the 
Prophets, and ended by charging the evil spirit to depart in the name 
of God, Jesus Christ, and the angel Gabriel, etc. That is, so far as I 
can recollect it. 

In 1868 I was informed by the owner of a farm that he had pulled 
down an old cow-house, and built a new one some years previously. 
He happened to be there one day when the workmen found a small 
tin-box, much eaten and perforated by rust, in the wall of the old cow- 
house which they were then pulling down. My friend, the owner, 
opened the box and found in it a paper, a copy of which is given 
on opposite page. Both the box and the original document found 
in it are now in my possession. My friend asked his tenant 
whether he could explain how the box and paper got into the wall. 
The tenant said that many years before then his late father, a former 
tenant of that farm, lost several of his cows from some obscure disease 
which he believed was witchcraft. His father consulted Mr. H., and 
obtained from him a charmed paper in a tin-box which he was to hide 
in the wall of the cow-house to ward off all evil spirits and witchcraft, 
and it appeared to have answered the purpose well, for there was no 
recurrence of the obscure disease after that, nor any reason to suspect 

Miscellanea . 277 

witchcraft of any kind on the farm. The son did not know in what 
part of the wall his father hid the box and charmed paper, but he had 
no doubt those found were those given by Mr. H. for the purpose of 
protection against witchcraft. Afterwards the writing was identified 
with that of Mr. H., though written in the name of the old farmer, 
who could not have written it himself — he could not write his own 

name well. 

Griff. Evan.s, M.D. 
Br}-ncynallt, Bangor, N. Wales. 

The following is an exact copy of the charm, both spelling and 
punctuation, as checked by Prof Rhys with the original, excepting 
that he cannot decipher the symbols after the two archangels' names. 
The text, it will be observed, reads continuously to the right of them : 

^ Lignum sanctae crusis defendat me a malis presentibus preateri- 
tus & futuris ; interioribus & exterioribus >^ *i* Daniel Evans ►f" »f« 
Omnes spiritus laudet Dominum : Mosenhabent & prophetas. Exer- 
gat Deus & disipenture inimiciessus ►!< . ►f" O Lord Jesus Christ I 
beseech thee to preserve me Daniel Evans ; and all that I posses. 
from the power of all evil men, women ; spirits, or wizards, or hard- 
ness of heart, and this I will trust thou will do by the same power as 
thou didst cause the blind to see the lame to walk and they that were 
possesed with unclean spirits to be in their own minds Amen Amen 
*h *i' *i* *i* pater pater pater Noster Noster Noster aia aia aia 
Jesus >t< Christus 4* Messyas ►J* Emmanuel ►J* Soter 4* Sabaoth >J< 
Elohim ►{< on 4* Adonay ►fi Tetragrammaton *i* Ag : : *i* Panthon >J< 
... reaton *i* Agios- ^ Jasper *i> ]\IeIchor ►J* Balthasar Amen 

And by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Hevenly Angels 
being our Redeemer and Saviour from all 
Gabriel [ sym^>o/s ] ^^.j^^hcraft and from assaults of the Devil 
Michad [ sjmdo/s ] ^^_^^^ ^ q j^ord Jesus Christ I beseech 
thee to preserve me and all that I possess from the power of all evil 
men ; women ; spirits ; or wizards past, present, or to come inward 
and outward Amen ►J* *i* 




\English books published in London^ French books in Paris, 
unless otherwise metiiioned.~\ 


BULLIOT (J. B.) et Thiollier (F.). La mission et le culte de 
St. Martin d'apres les legendes et les monuments populaires 
dans le pays Eduen. 8vo. vi, 482 pp. Map and 200 illustra- 

Bygone Lincolnshire. Edited by Wm. Andrews. 2 vols. 8vo. 
X, 247, 256 pp. Hull : Brown and Son. 1891. 

*.• Folk-lore articles: Mabel Peacock, Havelok the Dane. 
PcT. IV. H. Jones, A Curious Legend. T. B. Trowsdale, 
Quaint Land Tenures and Customs of the Manor. Rev. W. P. 
Swaby, Superstitious Beliefs and Customs of Lincolnshire. 
Rev. J. C. Walter, The Legend of Byard's Leap. T. B. Trows- 
dale, The Witches of Belvoir. 

Congres international des traditions populaires. Premiere session 
(Paris, 1889). Compte rendu des stances. 8vo. 168 pp. 1891. 

COULABIN (H.). Dictionnaire des locutions populaires du bon pays 
de Rennes en Bretagne. i6mo. xvi, 378 pp. Rennes. 

Delphin (G.). Recueil de textes pour I'etude de I'Arabe parld. 8vo. 
vi, 367 pp. 1S91. (Very favourably reviewed by M. R. Basset 
(7?. T. P., vii, 3) as a most valuable contribution to the study of 
Arab folk-lore, as well as to the study of spoken Arabic.) 

Gomme (G. L.). Ethnology in Folk-lore. i2mo. 200 pp. K. Paul 
and Co. 

Gummere (Fr.). Germanic Origins : a Study in Primitive Culture. 
8vo. viii, 490 pp. D. Nutt. 

Contents : Land and People — Men and Women — The Home — 
Husband and Wife -The Family— Trade and Commerce— The 
Warrior— Social Order— Government and Law — The Funeral — 
The Worship of the Dead— The Worship of Nature— The 
Worship of Gods — Form and Ceremony. 

KORTH (L.). Volkstiimliches aus der Erftniederung. 8vo. Bonn, 

LUCIANI (T.). Tradizioni popolari Albonesi. Sm. 4to. iv, 103 pp. 

Folk-lore Bibliography. 279 

Owen (Rev. Elias). Welsh Folk-lore : a collection of the folk- 
tales and legends of North Wales ; being the prize essay of the 
National Eisteddfod, 1887. Revised and enlarged. Oswestry. 
Parts I, II (pp. I -144). 

ROSAPELLY (N.). All pays de Bigorre : Usages et coutumes. 8vo, 
97 pp. 1891. 

Weissmann (M.). Die Ratselweisheit in den Talmudim und Mid- 
raschim fachHch und sachlich erlautert und in alphabet. Ord- 
nung dargestellt (in Hebrew). Part I. (To be completed in 10 


Ehrenreich (P.). Beitrage zur Volkerkunde Brasiliens. 4to. 80 
pp., 50 plates. Berlin : Spemann. 

Hellwald (F. von). Ethnographische Rosselsprlinge, Kultur- und 
Volksgeschichtliche Bilder und Skizzen. 8vo. Leipzig, 1891. 

Ploss (H.). Das Weib in der Natur- und Volkerkunde. 3rd edition, 
revised and greatly enlarged by M. Bartels. 2 vols. 8vo. xiv, 
575 ; vii, 684 pp. Portrait of Ploss, 10 plates, and 203 cuts. 
Leipzig, 1891. 


Mitteis (L.). Reichsrecht und Volksrecht in den ostlichen Pro- 
vinzen des romischen Kaiserreichs. 8vo. xiv, 561 pp. Leipzig, 

WiNTERNlTZ (M.). Das altindische Hochzeitsntuell nach dem Apas- 
tambiya-Gtihyasutra und einigen anderen verwandten Werken. 
Mit Vergleichung der Hochzeitsgebrauche bei den iibrigen indo- 
germanischen Volkern. Extr. Denkschr. d. K. Akad. der Wiss. 
4to. 114pp. Vienna: Tempsky. 

•.• The substance of this paper was read by Dr. W. before 
the second International Folk-lore Congress, and will appear in 
the Tra7isacttons of the same. 


Campbell (G. A.). Santal Folk-tales. i6mo. 127 pp. Santa 
Mission Press. 

The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Edited by Francis 
J. Child. Part VIII. Royal 8vo. pp. 255-525. Boston: 
Houghton, Mifflin and Co. 

Contents: 226. Lizie Lindsay. 227. Bonny Lizie Bailie. 228. Glasgow 
Peggie. 229. Earl Crawford. 230. The Slaughter of the Laird of Meller- 
stain. 231. The Earl of Erroll. 232. Richie Story. 233. Andrew Lammie. 
234. Charlie MacPherson. 235. The Earl of Aboyne. 236. The Laird 
o'Drum. 237. The Duke of Gordon's Daughter. 238. Glenlogie. 239. 
Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie. 240. The rantin' Laddie. 241. The Baron 
o' Leys. 242. The Coble o' Cargill. 243. James Harris (the Demon Lover). 

2 8o Folk-lo7'€ Bibliography. 

244. James Hatley. 245. Young Allan. 246. Redesdale and Wise William. 
247. Lady Elspat. 248. The Grey Cock. 249. Auld Matrons. 250. Henry 
Martyn. 251. Lang Johnny More. 252. The Kitchie-boy. 253. Thomas 
o' Yonderdale. 254. Lord William ; or, Lord Lundy. 255. Willie's fatal Visit. 
256. Alison and Willie. 257. Burd Isabel and Earl Patrick. 258. Broughty 
Wa's. 259. Lord Thomas Stuart. 260. Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret. 
261. Lady Isabel. 262. Lord Livingston. 263. The new-slain Knight. 
264. The White Fisher. 265. The Knight's Ghost. — Additions and Correc- 
COMPARETTI (D.). Der Kalewala oder die traditionelle Poesie der 
Finnen. Historisch. krit. Studie liber den Ursprung der grossen 
nationalen Epopoen. 8vo. xii, 322 pp. Halle : Niemeyer. 
Devogel (V.). Legendes bruxelloises. 8vo. Brussels. 
Genoud (J.). Ldgendes fribourgeoises. 8vo. 280 pp. Friburg. 
GlTTiiE (A.) et Lemoine (J.). Contes populaires des pays Wallons. 

8vo. Ghent, 1891. 
Irish Fairy Tales. Edited, with an Introduction, by W. B. Yeats. 

i6mo. viii, 236 pp. Fisher Unwin. 
Reliqui^ Celtics. Texts, Papers, and Studies in Gaelic Litera- 
ture and Philology left by the late Rev. Alex. Cameron. Edited 
by Alex. MacBain and Rev. John Kennedy. Vol. I : Ossianica. 
With Memoir of Dr. Cameron. 8vo. clxxi, 430 pp. Inverness: 
Northern Chronicle. 

• .' This vol. comprises the most accurate text extant of the 
Dean of Listnore's Book, and of other important collections of 
Scotch Ossianic poetry. English version of four pieces ; modern 
Gaelic transcript of the Lismore texts. A most valuable contri- 
bution to the scientific study of the Ossianic cycle, and a worthy 
memorial of Scotland's greatest Gaelic scholar. — A. N. 
Stern (B.). Fiirst Wladimirs Tafelrunde. Altrussische Helden- 
sagen mit Einleitung und Bibliographic. 8vo. 1, 290 pp. Berlin : 
S. Cronbach. 

*.• An excellent introduction to the study of the Russian 

heroic cycle, the peculiarity of which is that we possess it as 

preserved by the peasant class, instead of by singers mainly 

addressing themselves to the warrior and chieftain class. — A. N. 

Thuriet (Ch.). Traditions populaires du Doubs. 8vo. xxv, 527 

pp. Paris : E. Lechevalier. 
Volkslieder, deutsche, aus Bohmen. Red. von A. Hruschka u. W. 

Toischer. Parts I-IV (pp. 1-542). Prague : Tempsky. 
Ultonian Hero-Ballads collected in the Highlands and Western 
Isles of Scotland from the year 15 16 until 1870. Arranged, 
corrected metrically and orthographically, and translated into 
English by Hector Maclean. i2mo. xiii, 184 pp. Glasgow: 

■.• Interesting collection of the non-Ossianic hero-ballads 

Folk-lore Bibliography. 281 

current in Scotland, compiled by Campbell of Islay's chief fellow- 
worker. Gives translation of some of the texts in the Leabhar iia 
Fetnfie not otherwise accessible. — A. N. 


Arbois de Jubainville (H. d'). Cours de litterature celtique. 
Vol. V : L'Epop^e celtique en Irlande, vol. i. 8vo. xliv, 536 pp. 

Ahrens (K.). Das Buch der Naturgegenstande herausgegeben und 
iibersetzt. 8vo. vii, 84, 71 pp. Kiel : Haessler. (Syriac text and 
German translation of a popular natural history akin to the 

" Physiologus".) 

Beowulf. The Deeds of Beowulf. An English Epic of the eighth 
century done into modern prose; with an Introduction and Notes 
by John Earle. Cr. 8vo. c, 203 pp. Oxford : Clarendon Press. 

LOSETH (E.). Le Roman en prose de Tristan ; Le Roman de 
Palamede ; et la compilation de Rusticien de Pise. Analyse 
critique d'apres les MS S. de Paris. 8vo. xxvi, 544 pp. E. Bouillon, 

• . • A most meritorious piece of work. Does for the Tristan 
portion of the Arthur cycle what Dr. Sommer has done in the 
third volume of Malory for the Merlin portion. Indeed, this 
work and Sommer's Malory allow a fairly complete survey of the 
whole field of French Arthurian romance. — A. N. 

Patzig (H.). Zur Geschichte der Herzmiire. 4to. 22 pp. Berlin: 
Gaertner, 1891. 

WiRTH (A.). Danae in christlichen Legenden. 8vo. vi, 160 pp. 
Vienna : Tempsky. 

'.• The appendix comprises inedited Greek Acts of Saints 
Barbara and Irene. 

Goblet d'Alviella. L'id^e de Dieu d'apres I'anthropologie et 
I'histoire (Hibbert Lectures, 1891). 8vo. xiv, 328 pp. F. Alcan. 
Groot (J. J. M. de). The Religious System of China. Its ancient 
forms, evolution, history, and present aspect. Manners, customs, 
and social institutions connected therewith. Vol. i. Book I : 
Disposal of the Dead. Part i. Funeral Rites ; Part ii, The 
Ideas of Resurrection. Roy. 8vo. xxiv, 360 pp. Nine full-page 
plates and numerous cuts. Leyden. 

•.• The complete work will comprise about fifteen volumes. 
ROBIOU (Felix). La Question des Mythes. I. (Egypte, Assyrie.) 
8vo. 90 pp. E. Bouillon. 

•.• A vehement attack on the evolutionist and anthropological 
theory of the origins of religion. — A. N. 

282 Folk-lore Bibliography. 


The Academy, January 16. A. Lang, The Indian Origin of Fairy 
Tales. — January 31, E. S. Hartlatid, The Indian Origin of 
Popular Tales. — April, Whitley Stokes and Alfred Nutt^ The 
Marriage of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Damsel. 

The Antiquary, January. Charlotte S. Bnr?te, What Next.? The 
Moral of the Folk-lore Congress.— February, R. C. Hope, Holy 
Wells : their Legends and Superstitions (continued). 

Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, vol. xiv, part i, 
November 1891. Rev. J. Marshall, Some Points of Resem- 
blance between Ancient Nations of the East and West. — Part 4, 
Rev. C. J. Ball, Glimpses of Babylonian Religion. — Part 5, P. 
Le Page Renouf, Egyptian Book of the Dead, translation and 
commentary, chap. i. Part 6, Book of the Dead, translation and 
commentary, chaps. 2 to 14. G. Maspero, Notes au jour le jour 
(adoption, amulettes, etc.). F. L. Griffith, A Cup with a Hieratic 

Science (New York), November 20, 1891. G. F. Kunz, Madstones 
and their Magic. — January 22, 1892. C. F. Nichols, Divine 

American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, xiv, i, January 1892. 
S. D. Peet, The Water-cult among the Mound Builders. /. T. 
McLean, Pre-Columbian Discovery of America (continued in 
No. 2). J. Deans, The Antiquities of British Columbia. D. Daly, 
The Irish Discovery of America. — xiv, 2, S. D. Peet, The Mound 
Builders and the Mastodon. G. P. Thurston, New Discoveries 
in Tennessee. 

The American Anthropologist, vol. v, No. i, January. /. Owen 
Do7sey, Siouan Onomatopes. J. M^alter Fewkes, A few Tuscayan 
Pictographs. M. Fells, Aboriginal Geographic Names in the 
State of Washington. F. Boas, Notes on the Chemakun 
Language. C. E. IVoodru^, Dances of the Hupa Indians. 
y. Moo7tey, Improved Cherokee Alphabets. /. Mooncy, A Kiowa 
Mescal Rattle. W. H. Holmes, Studies in Aboriginal Decorative 
Art, i. G. Foivke, Some Interesting Mounds. A'. Fletcher, 
Quarterly Bibliography of the Anthropologic Literature. Abstract 

Folk-loi'e Bibliography. 283 

of Proceedings of the Anthropologic Society of Washington (in 
" Notes and News"). J. Mooney, A Yamassee Covenant. 
Marriage Custom in Eastern Kentucky. Phebe Bird in Iroquois 
Mythology. W. Matthews^ Meaning of the Word "Arikara". 
J. N. B. Hewitt, A Sun-myth and the Tree of Language of the 

American Notes and Queries, December 12, 1891. E. Roberts, 
Peculiar Superstitions. — January 9, 1892, Moon Superstitions. 

Journal of American Ethnology and Archaeology. Edited by J. 
Walter Fewkes. Vol. i, 1891. Small 4to. 132 pp. Plans and 
illustrations. Co?itents : A few Summer Ceremonials at Zuni 
Pueblo — Zuiii Melodies — Reconnoissance of Ruins in or over the 
Zuiii Reservation. 

Journal of American Folk-lore, January^March, 1892. Third Annual 
Meeting of the American Folk-lore Society. H. R. Lang, The 
Portuguese Element in New England. Fanny D. Ber^e?!, Some 
Bits of Plant-lore. W. W. Newell, Conjuring Rats. /. VV. 
Fewkes, The Ceremonial Circuit among the Village Indians of 
North-Eastern Arizona. J. Dea?is, Legend of the Fin-back 
Whale Crest of the Haidas, Queen Charlotte's Island, B.C. 
Collection of Folk-lore in Finland. F. H. Gushing, A Zuni 
Folk-tale of the Underworld. Mrs. IV. IV. Brown, Chief-making 
among the Passamaquoddy Indians. Proverbs and Phrases. 
Waste-basket of Words. Folk-lore Scrap-book. Notes and 
Queries. Record of American Folk-lore. Local Meetings ard 
other Notices. Bibliographical Notes. 

Journal of the Anthropological Institute, vol. xxi, No. 2, November 
1891. H. Li?ig Roth, The Natives of Borneo ; edited from the 
papers of the late Brooke Low, Esq. : i. Magic, Burial Customs, 
Festivals, and Womenfolk. C. H. Read, On the Origin and 
Sacred Character of certain Ornaments of the S.E. Pacific. 
Prof. F. Max Miiller, Address to the Anthropological Section of 
the British Association, 1891. — No. 3, February 1S92. Rev. J. 
Sibree, Curious Words and Customs connected with Chieftain- 
ship and Royalty among the Malagasy. E. B. Tylor, On the 
Limits of Savage Religion. Mrs. S. S. Allison, Account of the 
Similkameen Indians of British Columbia. /. O. Wardrop, The 
Use of Sledges, Boats, and Horses at Burials in Russia ; sum- 
marised from a memoir by Prof. Anuchin of Moscow. 

Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, December 1891. Sara M. Handy ^ 
Negro Superstitions. 

284 Folk-lore Bibliography. 

The Open Court. January 7. Mrs. A. Boddmgtoii, A Modern View 
of Ghosts. — January 14, Paul Carus, Ghosts and the Belief in 

Bulletin de Folk-lore. Organe de la Societe du Folk-lore Wallon. 
i, 1 89 1, deuxieme semestre. iM. IVil/notte, La porte d'enfer et la 
porte du Paradis. J. Simon, L'os qui chante, variante nouvelle. 
£. Monseiir, L'os qui chante (continued from i, premier 
semestre). B. Variantes deja connues. c Notes. J. Delaite, 
Machandelbaum, variante nouvelle. M. Wilmotte, Recettes 
medicales du 13^ siecle J. Feller, Botanique populaire. 

■ . • I take the first opportunity of drawing the attention of 
English foik-lorists to Prof. Monseur's important and admirable 
discussion of the Os qui chante folk-tale cycle. It is a model of 
storyologica! investigation, and, I do not hesitate to say, the 
most fruitful bit of work in the study of the folk-tale pure and 
simple that has been done for many years. The method adopted 
is in some ways an anticipation of that used by Miss Roalfe Cox 
in her Cinderella volume. 

The Society de Folk-lore Wallon deserves the support of all 
folk-lorists. The yearly subscription (only 5 francs) may be paid 
through me. — Alf. Nutt. 
Melusine, vi, 2. H. Gaidoz, Le coq cuit qui chante. La pie mangee 
qui parle. Les decorations, vi. Les Esprits Forts de I'antiquite 
classique. Oblations a la mer. Les serments et les jurons. Les 
ongles. F. Feilberg, Ne frapper qu'un seul coup. E. A'., Les 
noms du diable. J. Tuchinann, La fascination : (6) diagnostique. 
K. Meyer, Devinettes irlandaises. E. RoUand, La quarantaine 
de Marie-Madeleine. La jalousie de Joseph. F. Botinardot, La 
motte de terre. Bibliographie. 
Revue des Traditions Populaires, 1892, vii, 2. F. Marqiier, Traditions 
et Superstitions des Ponts et Chauss^es, vii {suite) ; Les Ponts, 
i {suite) ; Les Routes. P. Sebillot, Les Chemms de fer. J. 
Tiersot et V. dFndy, Chansons populaires recueillies dans le 
Vivarais et le Vercors (deuxieme article). G. Fouju, Legendes 
et Superstitions prdhistoriques : viii, Gargantua en Eure-et-Loir ; 
ix, Gargantua dans I'Aisne. P. S., Les Enfants qui n'ont pas 
vu le jour, ii. Mddecine superstitieuse : v, L. Morin, Empiriques 
et gudrisseurs de I'Aube ; vi, G. Le Calves, Basse-Bretagne et 
environs de Saint-Meen. Les noms des doigts : ii, H. Ch^guil- 
laume. En Vendee ; iii, A. Certeux, A Paris. P. Scbillot., Additions 
aux coutumes, traditions et superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne. 
L.-F. Sauve, L'homme de glace ; Idgende de la Basse-Bretagne. — 
vii, 3. R. Basset, Les Ordalies (sja'te) : ii, Par le Poison. J. 

Folk-lore Bibliogi-aphy. 285 

Tiersot et V. d'ltidy, Chansons populaires recueillies dans le 
Vivarais et le Vercors {suite). O. Colson^ Devinettes recueillies 
au pays Wallon. E. Enaud, Le Mat beni de Caurel. L. 
Blairet, Petites Idgendes chretiennes : i, Saint Vorles et Saint 
Valentin. P. Sebillot, Additions aux coutumes, traditions et 
superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne {suite). R. Basset., Les Objets 
merveilleux de Salomon {suite). A. Millie?!^ Petits Contes du 
Nivernais. R. de rEstoufbeillon, Les Chasses fantastiques : i, 
La chasse Gallery. A. Certeux, Les Pendus : iv, Le patron des 
Pendus {suite'). F. Fertiault, Coutumes de mariage : x, Le coup 
de couteau de la marine. F. Marquer, Traditions et Super- 
stitions du Morbihan. L. Morin, Les Outils traditionnels : i, 
Le sabot. Extraits et lectures : i, G. de Rialle, Superstitions du 
pays de Mossi ; ii, A. Descubes Une Nereide messaline. P. S., 
Necrologie : A. de Quatrefages. — vii, 4. R. Rosieres, Les Mysti- 
fications : iii, L'origine du poisson d'avril. /. Corne/issen, Les 
noms des doigts : iv, Belgique flamande. Mme. Descubes., L'amant 
maladroit : chanson de la Bresse. M. de PEstourbeillon, Bonjour 
a Mars : ii, Loire-Inferieure. A. Masson, Poesies sur des themes 
populaires : xxi, Les cloches a Rome. A. Harou, Les cloches : 
V, Les cloches a Rome. R. Bayon., Les rites de la construction : 
iv. La tour du diable. Les villes englouties, Ix-lxiii, R. Basset; 
Ixiv, J. dArjnont, Les chateaux de Saint-Jacques de la Lande; 
Ixv, L. de Villers, La ville du Lou-du-Lac ; Ixiv, P. S., La ville 
de Coetma. P. S., Les croix legendaires. F. Marquer, Tra- 
ditions et Superstitions des Ponts et Chaussdes : vi, Les Digues 
{suite) ; Rupture de la digue de Corseul ; vii, Les Ponts {suite) ; 
Ponts hantes. J. Cornelisseit, Les chemins de fer, ii {suite) : 
Pronostics ; Noms expressifs. A. Harou, Preventions de savants. 
F. Marquer, Les Routes, i {suite) : Routes du diable. A. Certeux; 
Miettes de folk-lore parisien : Les Balayeurs. F. Fertiau/t, 
Coutumes et usages de la semaine sainte : v, Les Roules (Cham- 
pagne). R. Basset, Un pretendu chant populaire arabe. E. 
Ernault, Le roi d'Angleterre : iv, Haute-Bretagne. /. Corne- 
lissen, Les roseaux qui chantent : v, La croix de Sainte Cecile, 
conte de la Campinere. P. Sebillot, Additions aux coutumes, 
traditions et superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne {sitite) ; Rimes 
et jeux de I'enfance. A. Lefevre, Prieres populaires en Seine-et- 

Revue Celtique, xiii, i. L. C. Stern, Le MS Irlandais de Leide (very 
interesting inedited Fenian tales). Whitley Stokes, The Boroma. 
H. de la Villemarque, Anciens Noels Bretons. J. von Pflugk- 
Hartung, Les cycles epiques d'lrlande. 

2 86 Folk-lore Bibliography. 

Romania, 8i, Janvier 1893. F. Lot, Le Mythe des enfants cygnes. 
Le chevalier au lion, comparaison avec une legende irlandaise. 
(Neither thesis of M. Lot's can be sustained in the form in which 
he has presented it. — A. N.) 

La Tradition, 1892, 2. E. Ozenfant, Les proverbes de Jacob Cats,',i. 
H. Camay, Les fetes de Fevrier. F. Ortoli, Les Charivaris. E. 
Lepelletier, A propos de Philemon et Baucis. F. Chapelle, Les 
'],']']'] Saints de Lanrivoard. Dr. S. Praia, La devote amoureuse ; 
Le crime d'CEdipe. C. de IVarloy, Cantique sur Ste.-Marie- 
Magdeleine. F. de Zepelin et de Calville, Proverbes danois, i. 
J. Nicolaides, Le folklore de Constantinople {suite). L. Lalanne, 
Origine de quelques legendes sur les saints. H. M., L'amant 
trompe. — 3. T. Davidson, Les incantations. J. Nicolaides, Le 
folklore de Constantinople, vi. S. Prato, L'homme change en 
ane, vi. A. Harou, Proces contre les animaux {suite). I. Salles, 
Lou Pe de Sinsoum. P. de Wailly, Le conte du ruse voleur. 
F. de Zepelin, Proverbes danois, ii. /. Lemoine, Le mois de 
Mai. L. Lalanne, Origine de quelques legendes sur les saints, ii. 
E. Ozenfant, Les proverbes de Jacob Cats, ii. F. de Beaic- 
repaire. Chansons populaires du Quercy, xii-xiii. H. Carnoy, 
Le carnaval. P. Ristelhube}-, Saint Antoine en Alsace. 
V. Henry, Bulletin bibliographique. E. Blemant, Le mouvement 

Journal des Savants, Sept. 1891. Gaston Paris, Le juif errant en 
Italie (reviews Morpurgo's recent book on the subject. Cf. Mr. 
John O'Neill's two articles, Nat. Observer). 

Revue Generale du Droit, Sept. -Oct. 1891. E. Reich, Les institutions 
greco-romaines au point de vue anti-evolutionniste ; le droit 
romain et les theories modernes sur revolution. 

Revue de I'Histoire des Religions, Sept. -Oct. 1891. Piepenbring, 
Histoire des lieux de culte et du sacerdoce en Israel. Aymonier, 
Les Tchames et leurs religions (continued in the Nov.-Dec. No.). 

Ethnologische Mittheilungen aus Ungarn, zugleich Anzeiger der 
Gesellschaft fiir die Volkerkunde Ungarns, vol. ii, 6-8. B. Miin- 
kacsi, Kosmogonische Sagen der Wogulen. i. Die heilige Sage 
von der Entstehung der Erde. 3. Das Lied von der Ueber- 
schwemmung des Himmels und der Erde. 4. Die Sage von der 
heiligen Feuerflut. 5. Heiliges Lied von der Herablassung der 
Erde aus dem Himmel. H. v. Wlislocki, Wanderzeichen der 
Zigeuner. L. Kalaviany, Kosmogonische Spuren in der Magyar- 
ischen Volksliberlieferung. Ig. Kunos, Tiirkisches Puppen- 

Folk-lore Bibliography. 287 

theater. E. Katona, Recht und Unrecht. B. Martirko, Die 
Zipzer Volkssage von Kasparek. S. Weber^ Die Kleidung der 
Zipzer Sachsen. L. Reth}\ Colonien der Spanier in Ungarn. 
F. S. Kuhac^ Die Klementiner in Slavonien. Magyarische 
Volksballaden, etc. 

Mitteilungen der litauischen litterarischen Gesellschaft, 1891. Jiiszkie- 
zuicz, Heirathsgebrauche bei den Letten. Lohmeyer, Bericht 
aiis dem Jahre 1606 iiber den Resten lettischen Heidentums. 

Mittheilungen der Niederlausitzschen Gesellschaft fiir Anthropologie 
und Alterthumskunde, 1891, ii, i. Ga?jder, Der wilde Jager und 
sein Ross. 

Sitzungsberichte d. Kgl. Preuss. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1891, 
Nos. 29-30. K. Wcmhold, Kriegssitten und Kriegswesen der 

Zeitschrift fiir deutsches Alterthura, 1891, No. 4. Much, Jupiter 
Taranus. Von Grtenbfrger, Germanische Gotternamen. Mttch, 

Zeitschrift d. deutschen morgenland. Gesellschaft, 189 1-2. Spiegel, 
Avesta und Shah-nameh. 

Zeitschrift f. vgl. Rechtswissenschaft, 1891, i. Friedrichs, Vergleich- 
ende Studien iiber Ehe- und Familienrecht. 

Zeitschrift fur Volkskunde, iv, 2. O. Knoop, Die neu entdeckten 
Gottergestalten und Gotternamen der norddeutschen Tiefebene 
und von Mitteldeutschland. E. Veckenstedt, Vorabend und Tag 
St. Johannis des Taufers. T. Vernaleken, Mythische Volks- 
dichtungen. Architt, Sagen und Schwanke aus der Provinz 
Pommern. E. Priefer, Yolkslieder aus der Provinz Branden- 
burg : aus Sommerfeld und Umgegend. L. Nottrott, Aus der 
Provinz Sachsen : Der Festkalender von Spickendorf und Um- 
gegend nach Sitte, Brauch und Schwank.— 3, 4. O. Knoop, 
Die neu entdeckten Gottergestalten und Gotternamen der nord- 
deutschen Tiefebene und von Mitteldeutschland : vi, Frau Harke. 
E. Veckenstedt, Vorabend und Tag St. Johannis des Taufers. 
A. S. Gatschet, Ein Sturmrennen am Horizonte ; Zwei 
Indianermythen. T. Verfialeken, Mythische Volksdichtung, 
viii. Bollig, Sagen aus der Rheinprovinz. MeuselbacJi, Wie 
die Klosterkirche zu Paulinzella in Thiiringen Ruine wurde. 
R. Fitzner, Sinnspruche und Sprichworte der magribinischen 
Moslemin. E. Briefer, Volkslieder aus der Provinz Branden- 
burg : Aus Sommerfeld und Umgegend. Bucherbesprechungen 

2 88 Folk-lore Bibliography. 

vov. E. Veckenstecit : F. von Hellwald, Ethnographische Fossel- 
spriinge, Kultur- und volksgeschichtliche Bilder und Skizzen ; 
J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough. 

Zeitschrift des Vereins fiir Vclkskunde, ii, i. O. L. Jiriczek., Faro- 
ische Miirchen und Sagen. F. Kanffma7w, Der Matronen- 
kultus in Germanien. K. IVetiihohi, Zu Goethe's Parialegende. 
F. Kunze, Der Gebrauch des Kerbholzes auf dem Thiiringer 
Walde. E. Lovari7ii, Die Frauenwettrennen in Padua. W. 
Schwarts, Die Wiinschelrute als Quellen- und Schatzsucher. 
Kleine Mittheilungen ; Biicheranzeigen ; etc. 


Vol. III.] SEPTEMBER, 1892. [No. III. 


ANIMISM" is the term, specially used by Dr. Tylor, 
for what is otherwise called Spiritism or Spiritualism 
— the general doctrine, namely, of Spiritual Beings ; and, to 
use his own words,^ Dr. Tylor's " Theory of Animism 
divides into two great dogmas, forming part of one con- 
sistent doctrine : first, concerning souls of individual 
creatures, capable of continued existence after the death or 
destruction of the body ; second, concerning other spirits 
upvv^ard to the rank of powerful deities." Similarly may 
Mr. Herbert Spencer's Ghost-theory be defined. But, 
though as fully and cordially as anyone here present, I 
acknowledge my obligations to Dr. Tylor, and especially 
to Mr. Herbert Spencer, I venture to think — and trust 
that you will agree with me in thinking — that the time 
has now come for a more searching criticism of the Ghost- 
theory which these writers hold in common. I propose, 
however, to confine myself here to the form it assumes in 
Dr. Tylor's Theory of Animism. And without further 
preface, I shall state my first Query. 

^ This Paper is here printed as read at the meeting of the Folk-lore 
Society on the 15th June 1892, save that the first Query, which re- 
lated more particularly to Mr. Spencer's views, is omitted, and certain 
of the other Queries are stated somewhat differently. 

2 Prim. Cult., i, pp. 384-5. 

VOL. in. u 

.290 Queries on Animism. 

I. — My first Query is : Does not the theory of Animism 
'■ — so far as it is an attempt to account for the conception 
of Nature as animated — inconsistently ignore an admittedly 
primitive conception of Nature which, if consistently recog- 
nised, would make the theory unnecessary ; and is not the 
consequent subsumption of Fetishism under Animism a 
self-contradictory confusing of two essentially different 

Both Mr. Spencer and Dr. Tylor admit, though in 
different ways, that the notion of the animation of nature 
by " souls" was not the primordial conception of Nature. 
According to Mr. Spencer, the earliest conception of Nature 
was one in which there was the most definite discrimination 
between "animate" and "inanimate", living and dead. This 
theory I may elsewhere have occasion to discuss, and here 
I shall only remark that it appears to be founded on the 
singular fallacy of confusing the very abstract notions of 
"animate" and "inanimate" with the very concrete notions of 
harmful and harmless. Dr. Tylor, however, declares that, 
" for his part he fails to see anything to object to in the 
ordinary notion that savages do directly personify the Sun, 
or the Sky, the Wind, or the Rivers, treating them as great 
beings acting by will, and able to do good or harm."^ But 
if there was, as Dr. Tylor elsewhere more briefly puts it, 
" a primordial personification of inanimate objects and 
powers"," it is difficult to see the logical necessity for the 
elaboration of a theory of " souls" wherewith to animate 
things which are already ex JiypotJiesi animated by " per- 
sonification". Here Mr. Spencer is incomparably more 
logical. For, as he affirms that all animals, " from cirrhi- 
peds and seaflies", have, and that man also had primor- 
dially, the marvellous capacity of perfectly discriminating 
between "animate" and "inanimate", and as he yet admits 
that, as a matter of fact, men do not now so discriminate, 
he is obliged to invent his theory of " ghosts", in order to 
attempt, at least, to account for the later non-discrimina- 

1 Mind, vol. ii, 1877, p. 155. - Prim. Cult., i, 285. 

Queries on AiiiDiisni. 291 

tion in which men fall so woefully short of the perfect dis- 
crimination attributed to other animals. Dr. T}'lor, how- 
ever, does not merely elaborate a theory of " souls" for the 
sake of such an " animation" of Nature as, in opposition to 
Mr. Spencer, he has already postulated ; but, still more 
illogically, if possible, he brings his primordial personifi- 
cations under that general Theory of Animism which is 
but a secondary result of the elaboration of a theory of 
"souls". Dr. Tylor professes himself a believer in Fetishism 
precisely as it was defined by Comte, namely, as " charac- 
terised by the free and direct exercise of our primitive ten- 
dency to conceive all external bodies soever, natural and 
artificial, as animated by life essentially analogous to our 
own, with mere differences of intensity".^ But though the 
Fetishist theory of Comte, with which Dr. Tylor thus 
expressly agrees, is in the most definite opposition to his 
own theory of Animism, defined as " the doctrine of 
Spirits in general", Dr. Tylor thinks that it will, to use his 
own words, " add to the clearness of our conceptions", if 
we define Fetishism as a " subordinate department of the 
doctrine of spirits","' and so give the name of Animism to 
two conceptions of Nature, which are not only essentially 
different in their characteristics, but which, according to 
Dr. Tylor's own contention, have two different origins — 
the origin of the one being a primitive tendency, " quite 
independent of the Ghost-theory", and the origin of the 
other being entirely derived from the Ghost-theory.^ And 
supported as I am both by Mr. Spencer^ and by Professor 

1 PJiilosopliic Positive^ torn, v, p. 30. 

^ Prim. Cult.,u, 132. 

^ " It will probably add to the clearness of our conception of the 
state of mind which thus sees in all nature the action of animated life, 
and the presence of innumerable spiritual beings, if we give it the 
name of Animism instead of Fetishism" {Aliiid, 1877, ii, p. 488.) 
Compare Prim. Cult., i, pp. 431 and 145, 260, etc., and ii, pp. 132, 

* Mind., ii, 1877, pp. 418-19, 428-29. 

U 2 

292 Queries on Animism. 

Max Miiller^ in my criticism of Dr. Tylor's self-contradic- 
tions, I may, perhaps, venture to put the above question in 
such bolder terms as these : Is not the theory of Animism, 
notwithstanding its sanction by the Encyclopedia Britan- 
iiica^ one of the most illogical and self-contradictory, and 
hence the most inimical to clear ideas, that has ever been 
introduced into, and had a vogue in science ? 

II. — My second Query is : May not a far more verifiable 
and consistent account be given both of the character 
and of the origin of primordial conceptions of Nature 
than that which is offered by Dr. Tylor in his theory of 
Animism } 

I have just pointed out the self-contradiction in Dr. 
Tylor's admission of a primordial personification of the 
inanimate objects and powers of Nature, while he at the 
same time sets forth a theory of the animation of Nature 
by the association of " souls" with all its objects ; and the 
self-contradiction also in Dr. Tylor's subsumption of 
Fetishism under Animism, thus " reducing it to a mere 
secondary development of the doctrine of spirits", while he 
at the same time expressly accepts the opposed definition 
of Fetishism by Comte. And I have now to show that, 
even disregarding these self-contradictions, Dr. Tylor's 
definition of the primordial conception of Nature as a 

1 "Animism .... has proved so misleading a name that hardly any 
scholar now likes to employ it In itself it might not be objec- 
tionable, but unfortunately it has been used for a totally different 
phase of religious thought, namely, for the recognition of an active, 
living, or even personal element in trees, rivers, mountains, and other 

parts of Nature Nay, Fetishism has been identified with 

Animism, and defined as the capability of the soul to take possession 
of anything whatever." {Natural Religioft, p. 158.) But already, 
in 1873, nearly twenty years ago, I had entered my protest against 
this disastrously confusing term in The New Philosophy of History, 
p. II, n. 2. 

2 See Dr. Tylor's article on Animism, and the general acceptance 
of the theory throughout the work. But the Encyclopadia Briia?inica 
is, in very numerous articles, a record rather of what was believed, 
than of what is believed, or is on the way towards being believed. 

Queries on Animism. 293 

personification of its objects and powers gives a very 
questionable account of the probable character and origin 
of the primitive consciousness of Things. That there 
ultimately arises a personification of the objects and 
powers of Nature may be admitted, and I shall pre- 
sently have occasion to suggest what the origins probably 
were of the personifying process. But I submit that if, 
with due scepticism as to the reports of missionaries and 
travellers, saturated with Christian notions of "dead" 
matter and immaterial " spirits", we endeavour rather to 
gain a realising knowledge of primitive conceptions from 
a comparative study of the different departments of Folk- 
lore, scientifically classified with this end in view, we shall 
conclude that the primitive, and still universally pre- 
valent, conception of Nature is one in which all objects — 
whether what we would call "animate" or "inanimate" — 
are conceived, so far as they are noticed at all, as them- 
selves Powers, harmful or beneficial. And not to Folk- 
lorists only, but to Psychologists, I would appeal as to 
whether such a consciousness of Things is not a necessary 
condition of the existence of all creatures ; and as to 
whether such a consciousness of Things as practically 
discriminates only between what may eat, and what may 
be eaten, implies, any such irrelevant and unnecessary 
discrimination between "animate" and "inanimate" as is 
insisted on by Mr. Spencer? We have here, however, 
to deal with Dr. Tylor. And, again, I would appeal to 
Psychologists as to whether, in the conception of the 
objects of Nature as themselves Powers, harmful or bene- 
ficial — understanding by the objects of Nature, of course, 
those only which specially influence the creatures' exist- 
ence, no notice being taken of the rest — whether in such 
a conception there is any sort of "personification"? Does 
a horse, for instance, either personify, or associate with 
an indwelling demon, a heap of stones by the road- 
side before he shies at it } And why, therefore, imagine 
that a negro must cither personify an odd-looking pebble 

2 94 Queries on Aniuiism. 

or associate a demon with it, before it strikes his fancy as 
possessed of powers that may bring him luck ? No words, 
however, so far as I am aware, as yet exist that can be 
desirably used to express the general concrete concep- 
tion of objects as themselves Powers. Fetishism and 
Fetishist will, no doubt, at once occur to you. But the 
associations connected with the origin of these terms in 
the Portuguese _/"^//V//6>, and which still cling to it inseparably, 
make it impossible, or, at least, highly undesirable, to use 
these terms to connote so general a conception of innate 
powers in things as must, I think, be recognised. For the 
needed term should include in its connotation not only 
such manifestations of this conception as had been ob- 
served by Habakkuk when he wrote — " He sacrificeth to 
his net and burneth incense unto his drag, because by these 
his portion is fat and his meat plenteous'''^ — but such a verse 
of the hymn of the Peleiades, Priestesses of Dodona, as 

Va Kap7rov<i dvlei, Sio Kkrj^ere /jbijTepa Taiav !"- 

(" Earth bringeth forth fruits, therefore call Earth Mother"), 
and also such a sublime invocation as that of Prometheus : 

" O divine Ether, and swift-winged Breezes, 
Fountains of Rivers, and Sea-waves' 
Laughter innumerable. All-mother Earth, 
All-seeing circle of the Sun, on you I call !"'^ 

Hence, as terms connoting this general concrete concep- 
tion of Things as themselves Powers, however low the 
expression of it, or however high, I would propose the 
terms Zoonisni and Zooju'st, derived from the Greek Zwov, 
an animal. For what is distinctive of our conception of 

1 Hab. i, i6. ^ Pausanias, x, xii, lo. 

2 Thus I have literally translated the famous lines of .(tschylus 
{Prometh. Vine, 82-91). But Christian notions so overpower the 
perceptions even of such a scholar as Dean Plumptre, that he actually 
translates "n Aios alOrjp — "O divine firmament 0/ God "thus wholly 
destroying the meaning of the passage as an appeal from the Younger 
Anthropomorphic to the Elder Elemental Gods. 

Queries on Animism. 295 

an animal is that it has innate powers — powers due to its 
very existence, and not to something else which has taken, 
possession of it, and acts through it, but is not properly the 
animal itself. In a less accurate way, one may define the 
Zoonist conception of Nature as a conception of all Things 
as living ; but more accurately, as I have said, it is a con- 
ception of all Things as themselves Powers, and in which 
no definite discrimination is made between dead and living 
matter, save as possessed oi different powers. 

ni. — My third Query is : Is there any adequate evidence, 
or, indeed, any evidence at all, of the elaborate inductions 
attributed by Dr. Tylor, as by Mr. Spencer, to Savages, in 
the working-out of the theory of Animism, their so-called 
" Savage Philosophy " ; and does not the theory of such 
inductions involve patent self-contradictions ? 

According to Mr. Spencer, the Ghost-theory was the 
identical result, all over the world, of the meditations of 
Savage Philosophers on the phenomena of shadows, re- 
flections, echoes, dreams, fainting, apoplexy, catalepsy, 
epilepsy, somnambulism, insanity, and death. Dr. Tylor 
is of the same opinion, with only certain differences in his 
list of the facts from reflection on which Mr. Spencer and 
he believe the Ghost-theory to have arisen. And some 
here present may remember the rather heated controversy 
between these two authors of the Ghost-theory in the pages 
oi Mind'm 1877, with reference particularly to the priority 
of their respective lists of the phenomena which they 
believed had painfully exercised the minds of their "Savage 
Philosophers".! Now what I venture altogether to question 
is this notion of Savage Philosophers among all races pain- 
fully reflecting on the problems of existence ; and not — like 
so many of us, Civilised Philosophers — dashing to conclu- 
sions, but slowly working up to them through reflection on 
a dozen different classes of facts ; nor, like Civilised Philo- 
sophers, coming all to different, but all to identical con- 
clusions. And I question this more particularly on these 

^ Pp. 424-29. 

296 Queries on Animism. 

grounds : First, however necessary may, as I have already 
pointed out, be, for Mr. Spencer, the elaboration of a Ghost- 
theory in order to account, if possible, for a conception of 
the animation of Nature, which he admits to be actual, but 
denies to be primordial, there is, as I have also already 
pointed out, no such necessity for Dr. Tylor's theory of 
Animism. But setting this aside, I must remark, secondly, 
that, as we have absolutely no evidence whatever of a 
spontaneous origin of Civilisation among Savages, so we 
have absolutely no evidence whatever of the spontaneous 
origin of such a reasoned inductive and deductive Philo- 
sophy among Savages, as is attributed to them by Dr. 
Tylor, as also by Mr. Spencer. Thirdly, the undeveloped 
mental capacities of Savages, which have been by no one 
more clearly demonstrated than by Mr. Spencer — the utter 
absence, or extreme defect, among them of capacities of 
surprise and curiosity, of abstraction, and of deliberate 
and coherent thought — make impossible the elaboration of 
such a complex and consistent theory as is attributed to 
them by Dr. Tylor's theory of Animism, as also, in con- 
tradiction of his own principles,^ by Mr. Spencer himself in 
his Ghost-theory. Fourthly, while there would be at least 

^ Thus, for instance, Mr. Spencer truly says, Principles of Sociology, 
i : " Conditioned as he is, the savage lacks abstract ideas" (p. 74). 
" An invisible, intangible entity ... is a high abstraction unthinkable 
by Primitive Man, and inexpressible by his vocabulary" (p. 133). 
"'Plants are green', or 'Animals grow', are propositions never de- 
finitely formed in his consciousness, because he has no idea of a plant 
or animal apart from kind" (p. 83). " In proportion as the mental 
energies go out in restless perception they cannot go out in de- 
liberate thought" (p. 77). " Absence of the idea of natural causation 
implies absence of rational surprise" (p. 85). "When the Abipones 
are unable to comprehend anything at first sight, they soon grow 
weary of examining it, and cry, 'What is it after all?'" (p. 53). And 
after citing a number of similar facts, Mr. Spencer truly says : "The 
general fact thus exemplified is one quite at variance with current 
ideas respecting the thoughts of Primitive Man. He is commonly 
pictured as theorizing about surrounding appearances ; whereas, in 
fact, the need for explanations of them does not occur to him" (p. Z']). 

Queries on Animism. 297 

a certain congruity in a theory of the origin of immaterial 
souls, from observations and meditations on " shadows, 
reflections, dreams," etc.Hhere is certainly a most significant 
incongruity in a theory of the origin of souls conceived, as 
Dr. Tylor rightly affirms them to be by Savages, as " sub- 
stantial material beings", from such intangibilities as 
"shadows, reflections, dreams", etc.- And fifthly, the 
identity, not merely of the general, but of the special 
conclusions assumed to have been spontaneously arrived 
at by these Savage Philosophers of every race and clime 
postulates such an identity in the characteristics of races 
as is contradicted by all our later ethnological knowledge. 

IV. — My fourth Query is : Is not the use of such terms 
as " soul", " ghost", " spirit", which ordinarily, with us, con- 
note immateriality and (after death) disconnection from the 
body, in the highest degree misleading when applied to 
primitive conceptions ; and are not these, therefore, terms 
which should be as much as possible abandoned in scientific 
discussions of these conceptions? 

This Query is founded on the following considerations : 
First, the greater part of our assumed knowledge hitherto 
with respect to Savage and Folk Beliefs is derived from 
the reports of Christian missionaries and travellers who 
have all had an ingrained belief in an " immaterial soul", 

1 For Dr. Tylor's complete list, as distinguished from Air. Spencer's, 
see Mimt^ 1877, li, 424. 

- See for illustrations of the notion of " souls" as " substantial material 
beings", Prim. Cult., ii, 409, 412. (I might myself add many other 
illustrations, and among the rest one of a very striking character from 
Evliya Effendi's Narrative of Travels, published by the Oriental 
Translation Fund ; but it may here suffice to refer to Shakespeare's 
"sheeted dead" who leave the "graves tenantless" — Hamlet, Act i, 
Sc. i). And Dr. Tylor's conclusion is, that "it appears to have been 
within the systematic schools of civilised philosophy that the trans- 
cendental definitions of the immaterial were obtained by abstraction 
from the primitive conception of the ethereal-material soul so as to 
reduce it from a physical to a metaphysical entity" (ii, p. 413). I do 
not, however, believe that Savages could either form or express the 
notion either of " ethereal" or "ethereal-material". 

29^^ Queries on Animism. 

and in the absolute difference between what they call " dead'* 
and living matter; in accepting and theorising on these 
reports, no allowance has been made for the turn given 
to them by the preconceived notions of these Christian 
missionaries and travellers ; nor any allowance for the un- 
willingness and inability of savage peoples and uncultured 
classes to reveal what their notions of things really are^ 
and their persistent effort, indeed, to conceal and mislead 
when questioned as to these notions.^ Secondly, the scien- 
tific study of Folk-lore, in its comparison of the genuine 
expressions of Folk-belief in Folk-customs, Folk-sayings, 
and Folk-poesies shows that the terms which would be 
usually translated by our words " soul", " ghost", or " spirit" 
do not mean anything like what these words signify to us. 
One finds, for instance, that what is really meant by the 
terms thus translated is not a wandering " spirit", but a 
restless corpse,- and that Dr. Tylor's definition of the 
" soul" as "capable of continued existence after the death 
or destruction of the body", is a Christian Culture-concep- 
tion, rather than a Pagan Folk-conception ; or that what 

1 " The more one knows of the natives", says Bishop Knight Bruce, 
\n\i\'=, Journal of the Maskofialand Mission, 1888-92, "the more one 
finds how consistently they keep on conceahng from strangers what 
they really think." Similar expressions of opinion might be quoted 
from Bishop Codrington, and indeed from most of the m.ore recent 
and more critical travellers and missionaries. 

2 Thus, for instance, Mrs. Balfour, in her admirably transcribed 
and most mitxQSimg Legends of Ihe Lincolnshire Cars (Folk- LORE, 
March, September, and December 1891), entitles one of them " SamTs 
Ghost". Yet she at the same time admits that "ghost" is "not 
a Lincolnshire word", and tells us that to these peasants dead persons 
are not " ghosts", but " bogles", which appears to mean " corpses 
capable of feeling, speaking, appearing to living eyes, and of working 
good and evil, till corruption has finally completed its work, and the 
bodies no longer exist" (Folk-Lore, December 1891, pp. 492-3)- 
Such an adjective as " perverse" is, of course, inadmissible with 
reference to a lady ; but if a man, with similarly full knowledge, had 
been guilty of such a misleading use of the term " ghost", one might 
illowably have protested against it as " perverse". 

Queries on Animism. 299 

is meant is much more like what a chemist means by an 
"essential principle", such as of tea, coffee, etc., than what a 
Christian means by " soul", " ghost", or " spirit";^ or again, 
that what is really meant may be but an extraordinarily 
gifted, rather than supernaturally different, being. It is, 
indeed, found that the main condition of a genuine under- 
standing of primitive Folk-conceptions is the getting rid 
altogether — or at least while endeavouring to enter into 
these conceptions — of the Christian notion of "souls", 
"ghosts", and "spirits". For conceiving the so-called 
" Soul" to be still attached to the corpse, and the corpse 
to be still in a manner living, we shall have no difficulty in 
understanding the care taken, by the Egyptians particularly, 
to ensure the preservation of the corpse ; nor any difficulty 
in understanding the deposition with the corpse of the 
dead man's belongings ; but difficulty only in accepting 
Dr. Tylor's theory of the " ghosts" of the things accom- 
panying the "ghost" of the dead into "Ghostland". And, 
thirdly, as to the abandonment of these terms in scientific 
discussions of Folk-conceptions, there would surely be 
much less chance of misrepresenting them if, when a 
general term was required for other than ordinary beings, 
such a term as " Supernals'^ were used ; while we at the 
same time frankly acknowledged our inability adequately 
to translate native words for conceptions which we do not 
share, and freely borrowed these words.-^ 

^ For instance, the Chaldean Zi^ ordinarily translated " spirit", was 
not, says Professor Sayce {Religion 0/ Attcierjt Babylonians, page 327). 
" a spirit in our sense of the word, nor even in the sense in which the 
term was used by the Semitic tribes of a later day. The Zi was 
simply that which manifested Hfe." And as to the Egyptian Ka, 
Professor Sayce, in reviewing Miss Edwards's Pharaohs^ Fellahs, and 
Explorers {Acad., February 13th, 1892), says: "I'he Ka meant life, 
though what life was conceived to be she cannot venture to say. 
I am incUned to identify the Egyptian Ka with the Akkadian ZiP 

2 Miss Garnett and I have uniformly followed this rule in our 
Greek Folk-so?igs and ]] 'omen and Folk-loi'e of Turkey. Among others, 
Miss Frere, in her Old Deccan Days, has, I think, generally borrowed 
native appellations instead of attempting almost necessarily mislead- 

300 Queries on Animism. 

V. — M}^ fifth Query is: May not origins of the notion of 
Supernals — or, to use Dr. Tylor's words, of " Spiritual 
Beings up to the highest Deities" — be suggested far more 
probably verifiable than the explanation of these origins 
given in the theory of Animism ? 

We have thus far considered the theory of Animism as 
an attempt to account for the conception of Nature as 
animated. We have now to consider it as an attempt also 
to account for the conception of " Spirits" associated with 
Nature. In other words, we have now to consider the 
theory of Animism as a theory of the origin of the notion 
of Gods. In the theory so far common to both Mr. 
Spencer and Dr. Tylor the notion of Gods " up", as 
Dr. Tylor expressly says, "to the highest", owes its origin, 
first of all, to the observations and meditations of Savages 
on such phenomena as shadows, reflexions, dreams, etc. 
For, as result of these observations and meditations, the 
notion of "souls", "ghosts", and "spirits" was developed. 
And from this notion — and, in Mr. Spencer's theory, more 
especially from Ancestral Ghosts — all Gods (and he ex- 
pressly includes the Semitic Yahveh) have originated. But 
the starting-point in this theoretical development — namely, 
observations and meditations of Savages on shadows, etc. 
— I have, under the Third Query, endeavoured to show to 
be wholly unvcrifiable and contradictory even of the facts 
admitted by Mr. Spencer and Dr. Tylor themselves. In- 
stead, therefore, of starting from unvcrifiable assumptions 
as to the observations and meditations of Primitive 
Savages, I would start from those conceptions of the 
objects of Nature as themselves Powers, which, as I have 
endeavoured to show in discussing the Second Query, must 
be accepted as a necessary postulate. Let us admit, then, 

ing translations. But such translations are, unfortunately, still the 
rule with the majority of European folk-Iorists. Geldart, for instance, 
translates Drakos as " Dragon", and Nereid as ' ' Fairy". .-\nd Nereids, 
Lamias, Stoickeions, etc., are all turned indiscnminately into Fees by 
French, and into Elfeii by German folk-lorists. 

Queries on Animism. 301 

that the conception of the objects with which a being is' 
specially concerned is a conception of them as themselves 
Powers, harmful or beneficial. With many races this 
conception might remain as concrete as with the lower 
animals. But with those among whom the specially 
human faculties of abstraction and language were con- 
siderably developed, the conception of Things as Powers 
would be differentiated into Things and Powers conceived 
as separable, just as the chemist's theine or caffeine is con- 
ceived. And just as the chemist's " essential principle" is, so 
the " soul" would be conceived — as we in fact know that it 
was and is — as a material body itself liable to disintegration. 
But psychology furnishes another, and perhaps even more 
powerful condition of the origin of the notion of "Spirits", or 
of what — because of the immateriality ordinarily connoted 
by that term — I prefer to call Supernals. I refer to that 
integrating activity of mind which creates personal shapes 
corresponding to the impressions made by the aspects of 
Nature. Take, for instance, the Greek Lamia of the Ocean, 
'H Aa/xt<x Tov WeXar^ov, or, as she is elsewhere called, "The 
Mother of the Sea", 'H Mava Tr]<; SdXacraa^, or the corre- 
sponding Gaelic " Sea-Maiden". What have we in this 
Supernal but a poetic synthesis of the impressions made 
by the glitteringly beautiful, yet cruel and capricious Sea? 
— a poetic synthesis which has nothing whatever to do 
with " ghosts". These creations of folk-fancy are, in fact, 
in no way essentially different, either in form or character, 
from the creations of the poet or poet-painter. All are 
images conveying impressions similar to those which their 
creator has received from some aspect of Nature. Further, 
I am quite willing to admit that observations of, and reflec- 
tions on, the phenomena specially signalised by Mr. 
Spencer and Dr. Tylor may have had some effect in deve- 
loping the notion of Supernals. But I submit that such 
observations and reflections are incomparabl)- more pro- 
bable among the leisured classes of Higher Races than 
among Primitive Savages ; and further, that it would be in 

302 Queries on Aiiiiuisin. 

the highest degree difficult to determine how much such 
observations and reflections actually contributed to the 
evolution of the notions in question. 

VI. — My sixth Query is : Does not the theory of Anim- 
ism wholly obscure the more profound " principle under- 
lying" all that immense class of primitive phenomena 
which may be generally indicated under the name of 
Magic ; and hence, does it not hinder rather than forward 
what, from the point of view of the Philosophy of History, 
should be the chief object of Folk-lore Research — the 
discovery and definition of the primitive conception of 
Causation 1 

" The principal key to the understanding of Occult 
Science", says Dr. Tylor, " is to consider it as based upon 
the Association of Ideas."^ It may be readily admitted 
that the Laws of the Association of Ideas give certain 
superficial explanations of the erroneous fancies as to 
causes and effects which are found in the " Occult Sciences", 
or generally, in Magic. But to treat such superficial 
explanations as the most profound that can be given is, 
I submit, only to obscure the necessity for more pene- 
trating research. What is the general conception of Nature 
which underlies those special notions of causes which we 
find in the Occult Sciences and the Magical Arts ? That 
is the question to which we must endeavour to discover 
a verifiable answer. Now, in above urging my Second 
Query, I have attempted to show that the primordial con- 
sciousness of Things among Men, and general conscious- 
ness of Things among Animals, down to Mr. Spencer's 
" cirrhipeds and seaflies", is a consciousness only of those 
objects with which they are specially concerned, and of 
them simply as Powers, harmful or beneficial. But if the 
different objects of Nature are thus primordially con- 
ceived, how can the primordial general conception of 
Nature — whenever such conception, or the germ of it, 
arises — be characterised save as a conception of Mutual 

1 Prim. Cull, i, \oi ; and compare pp. 107, 108, 113 etc. 

Queries 07t Animism. 303 

Influence ? Now I appeal to all students of Folk-lore — 
or, at least, to all comparative Folk-lorists, that is to say, 
students who endeavour to get at Folk-conceptions of 
Nature by a comparison of the expressions of these con- 
ceptions in Folk-customs, Folk-sayings, and Folk-poesies 
— I appeal to such students to say whether there is any 
possibility of sympathetically understanding the most cha- 
racteristic facts of Folk-lore save from the point of view of 
the conception of all things, not only as Powers, harmful or 
beneficial, but as Powers exerting, or capable of exerting, 
influences on each other, both for good and evil. It may 
be true, as Dr. Tylor says, that " it is on an error of the 
first order that Astrology depends, the error of mistaking 
ideal analogy for real connection".^ But this notwith- 
standing, I venture to say that the fundamental concep- 
tion of Astrology was essentially identical with the funda- 
mental conception of the Astronomy founded on the theory 
of Mutual Gravitation, and developed in the later physical 
applications of the principle of the Conservation of Energy. 
No doubt the forms and modes in which Mutual Influence 
was, in Astrology, supposed to be exerted were fanciful 
and false. But I submit that, notwithstanding this, the 
conception itself — at the root as it was, not only of Astro- 
logy, but of Divination in all its forms, of belief in the 
Evil Eye, of the use of Amulets and Charms, and of the 
practices of Witchcraft and Magic generally — this concep- 
tion was but a concrete form of the fundamental scientific 
conception of Reciprocal Action. And, in verification of 
this, I would refer especially to Sir Alfred Lyall's illuminating 
paper on Witchcraft and non-Christian Religions'? For he was 
the first, I believe, clearly to point out — and as result of his 
Indian studies and observations — that Witchcraft and Re- 
ligion (as ordinarily defined) are founded on two opposed 
conceptions of Nature ; that the rites of Religion and 
Witchcraft respectively have two completely different ob- 

1 Prim. Cult., i, ii6. 

2 Fortnightly Review, 1873 ; and Asiatic Studies, ch. iv, 1882. 

304 Queries on Aniinisin. 

jects in view ; and that, in point of fact, while the object 
of the ReHgionist is to obtain by supplication and sacrifice, 
that of the Magician is to enforce by arts founded on 
knowledge. But the Magician's belief that he can obtain 
what he wants by knowledge of the properties of things, 
or beings, and of the arts by which these properties can 
be made subservient to his will, is, I submit, essentially 
identical with the belief of the Savant, and, like his, 
implies the conception of the action of things on each 
other, though, no doubt, in forms which to us appear the 
wildest and most fanciful. And that such was the con- 
ception underlying Witchcraft we find verified in the his- 
torical fact that Witchcraft and Religion have always 
been bitterly opposed,^ just as Science and Religion are 
now opposed — Religion, at least, defined, as by Dr. Tylor, 
as " belief in Spiritual Beings". 

VII. — My seventh and final Query is : Is not the origin 
of Religion, as defined by Dr. Tylor, a secondary, rather 
than a primary phenomenon ; and may not a more veri- 
fiable theory of the origin of Religion be suggested than 
that which is given in the theory of Animism ? 

We have found under the Second Query that Dr. Tylor 
himself recognises a conception of the " animation" of 
Nature by direct " personification", prior to his affirmed 
" animation" of it by " souls", " ghosts", or " spirits". I 
attempted, however, to show under that Query, that direct 
conception of objects as Powers harmful or beneficial would 
be a more verifiable way of characterising the primitive 
consciousness of Nature, than that of affirming a process 
of personification. Under the immediately foregoing Sixth 
Query I have pointed out that, if objects are thus prim- 
ordially conceived as themselves Powers, the primordial 
general conception of Nature, whenever it arises, will be a 

^ Sir Alfred Lyall takes the following as the significant motto to his 
chapter on Witchcraft : " Witchcraft is as the sin of Rebellion." 
Compare the incantation scene in the Greek Romance of Theageiies 
and Chariclca by Heliodorus. 

Queries on Animism. 305 

conception of Mutual Influence. And as, under the same 
Query, we have found that the conception underlying 
Witchcraft is a conception of Mutual Influence, we must 
conclude that, of the two opposed conceptions underlying 
Witchcraft and Religion respectively, it is the fundamental 
conception of Witchcraft that is primary, and the funda- 
mental conception of Religion, as deiined by Dr. T}'lor, 
which is secondary. The same conclusions may be also 
otherwise reached from the facts and arguments brought 
forward under the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Queries. But 
first I must note that Dr. Tylor, in his definition of Reli- 
gion as " belief in Spiritual Beings", takes no account of 
the profound distinction shown by Sir Alfred Lyall to exist 
between Witchcraft and Religion as ordinarily defined.^ 
For the Magician may also believe in what Dr. Tylor calls 
" Spiritual Beings", and what I prefer to call Supernals. 
But notwithstanding such occasional and partial commu- 
nity of belief, there is still a profound difference between 
the Religionist and the Magician. For while it is the 
object of the Magician to force the Supernals, he may 
believe in, to do his bidding, it is the object of the less 
audacious Religionist to persuade them by prayer, pros- 
tration, and praise to grant him his desires. And if, 
therefore, Religion is to be defined as by Dr. Tylor, its 
more complete and accurate definition would be — belief 
in Spiritual Beings with Observances of Supplication rather 
than of Command. And now to indicate our other line of 
argument for the secondary character of the Religious, as 
compared with the Magical Conception of Nature. Under 
the Third Quer}' I pointed out that there is absolutely no 
evidence of such observations and reflections by Savages as 
those from which Dr. Tylor maintains that the notion of 
" Souls" was primarily generalised, and the notion of Gods 
ultimately developed. Under the Fourth Query, I showed 
that the very terms " soul", " ghost", and " spirit" were in 
the highest degree misleading when applied to the very 

' Compare Chaps, iv and xviii of Primitive Culture. 

3o6 Queries on Animism. 

materially conceived Supernals of Savage and Folk Belief. 
And under the Fifth Query I indicated what appeared 
to be a far more probable derivation of the notion of 
such beings from ordinary psychological processes, if we 
postulated first of all a direct conception of objects as them- 
selves Powers, harmful or beneficial. Thus we are again, as 
in our previous argument, brought to the conclusion that the 
conception of Spiritual Beings with Arbitrary Wills, which 
is distinctive of Religion (as ordinarily defined), is a later 
development than that conception of objects as themselves 
Powers, and hence of all the parts of Nature as bound to- 
gether by Mutual Influences, which is the distinctive con- 
ception of Witchcraft, or, generally, of Magic. And we 
should now proceed to inquire whether a more verifiable 
theory of the origin of the conceptions distinctive of 
Religion may not be suggested, than that maintained in the 
theory of Animism. But such an inquiry would, in my 
view of the means of arriving at a verifiable solution, involve 
consideration of the historical, as distinguished from Dr. 
Tylor's hypothetical, Origins of Civilisation, and of the 
results of the Conflict of Higher and Lower Races. And, 
as Mr. Kipling would say, " that is another story." 

Such, then, are the Seven Queries which I would submit 
to you with respect to Animism. When I read Dr. Tylor's 
book on its publication twenty-one years ago, it was with 
an interest which I shall never forget, and which I grate- 
fully record. But no two decades in the history of Science 
have been more fruitful than those since the publication 
o{ Primitive Culture. It is these later results of research 
that have suggested these Queries, and encouraged me to 
venture on their statement. And this seemed the more 
necessary, as Dr. Tylor has just published a third, but not 
a new edition of his work — " not having", as he says in his 
Preface, " found it needful to alter the general argument", 
but only "to insert further details of evidence, and to 
correct some few statements," not particularised. His 
fundamental postulates — the Homogeneity of Human 
Races, and the Spontaneous and Independent Origins of 

Queries on Animism. 307 

Civilisation ; his fundamental theory of the Origin of 
Gods from Ghosts, of Ghosts from Souls, and of Souls 
from Savage reflections on Shadows, etc. ; and his funda- 
mental self-contradiction in both accepting Comte's Fetish- 
ism, and treating it as " a subordinate department of the 
theory of Spirits" — these all, therefore, remain unchanged 
in Dr. Tylor's theory of Animism. And it is these posi- 
tions and their implications that I have ventured to query. 

J. S. Stuart-Glennie. 

Note. — When reading the above Paper, I said that conclusions as 
to West-European folk-conceptions should be corrected by com- 
parison with conclusions as to East-Asiatic folk-conceptions ; and 
I regretted that I had been unable to attempt such correction through 
such an authoritative work as Dr. De Groot's Religious System of 
China, which, if then published, was not yet obtainable in London. 
I have now, however — though not till after correcting the proofs of 
this Paper — had the advantage of perusing the first volume of that 
work ; and I may here add these general results. First, in corrobora- 
tion more especially of my Second and Sixth Queries, we find that 
among the Chinese the objects of Nature, including Mankind, are all 
conceived as Powers not only occasionally harmful or beneficial, but 
continually emitting on each other harmful or beneficial influences. 
Secondly, with reference more especially to my Third, Fourth, and 
Fifth Queries, we find that the notion of what is most unfortunately 
translated " Souls'' is not at all identical with, or even strictly speak- 
ing similar to, the notion commonly associated with that term in 
English. On the contrary, it seems to be far more similar — to use 
a comparison I have already used — to the chemist's " essential prin- 
ciple"; it is material, but of the kind of matter called Yang, of which 
the correlate is Ytnj and it continues after, as before death to be 
attached to the body, though in an enfeebled condition, which, how- 
ever, the influences emanating from other 'portions of Yarjg matter 
may so revive that there may be a resurrection of the body. And, 
thirdly, in corroboration of my first and last Queries, though we find 
among the Chinese a very developed doctrine of so-called " souls", 
" ghosts", or " spirits", yet these do not give " animation" to matter, 
as in the theories of Dr. Tylor and Mr. Spencer, but arise from 
a conception of Nature as already "animated", or rather as, in its 
own proper and original constitution, consisting of two different kinds 
of matter, the interaction of which produces a universal life. 

J. S. S.-G. 

X 2 


IF such branches of knowledge as zoology, botany, and 
geology were confined to a study of the external 
surfaces of animals, plants, and the outer crust of the 
earth, without taking note of the skeleton, of the internal 
structure, or of the underlying strata, our knowledge would 
be vastly curtailed — would be of comparatively little 
account. There is ground, therefore, for supposing that 
the analysis of the internal structure of a set of origin- 
stories will not be wholly useless. Several reasons suggest 
themselves for selecting for this purpose the group of 
origins taken from the magic songs of the Finns, which 
have appeared in various issues of FOLK-LORE. Their 
number is considerable. Including variants and other 
versions, they amount to one hundred and thirty-five, 
embracing fifty-one different subjects. They all belong to 
one country and people, are all couched in the same ballad 
metre, exhibit the same imagery and treatment, and be- 
long, so far as their external form is concerned, to one 
period, and that a modern one. Though there are nearly 
fifty more Finnish prose origins, I have not included them,. 
as some are clearly importations from over the border^ 
and their general character and style is quite different 
from the metrical ones. For instance, a considerable 
number describe metamorphoses from men into animals, 
generally as a punishment, a mode of origination which is 
not found in the metrical origins, though it is true such 
transformations are not unknown in the Kalevala. 

The analysis about to be submitted to you is not of the 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 309 

same kind as that employed by our Society in analysing 
folk-tales. It is more abstract. My object has been 
rather to lay bare the mental process by stripping off every 
particle of individuality till nothing is left but a formless, 
though still a differentiated residuum. Reduced to this 
state, we can view in a small compass the different threads 
of thought, twenty-seven in number, on which smaller 
groups of origins are strung. When arranged in sys- 
tematic order, they form a series, progressing from those 
that consist of one central thought, of one single germ, to 
others that exhibit various degrees or modes of develop- 
ment by means of an accompanying narrative. And in 
order to show the universality of these threads of thought 
or categories, as we may now call them, they have been 
illustrated, whenever I could do so, by examples drawn 
from the origin-stories and myths of other peoples in 
different parts of the world. Though it must not for a 
moment be supposed that all known origins can be com- 
pressed into twenty-seven categories. That is very far 
from being the case. 

Each category, expressed in about a couple of lines, 
consists generally of two parts: (i) The central thought, 
such as S. (any subject), originates from O. (an object); and 
(2) the drift of the narrative in its bearing upon S. or O. 
With one exception, the case in which a given subject is 
created by God, the central thought possesses two terms. 
First, the subject, such as wolf, snake, oak; secondly, the 
parents from which it is born, or the inanimate object from 
which it originates. Further, there must be mentioned 
one very important factor which is inherent in the nature 
of the subject and object, and that is their likeness or un- 
likeness to each other. It is evident that, when the idea 
of seeking for the origin of anything entered the mind, 
that the imagination, starting from a given subject, had to 
find either suitable parents, or an object of some kind from 
which to derive it. The mind had to pass in rapid review 
the stores laid up in the memory, and to make choice 

3IO An Ana/ysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

therefrom. Now, one interesting result of this analysis 
shows that in about eighty-five per cent, of instances the 
mind has consciously selected either parents or an inani- 
mate object in which it was able to trace some similarity 
with the subject from which it set out.^ But this likeness 
is not necessarily external and physical : it is often quite 
indirect and subjective ; or, if the origin results from an 
action, the likeness is to be found either in the agent, or 
in the result of the action. The instances in which there 
is no apparent resemblance between subject and object, or 
the parents from which it is born, only amount to about 
ten per cent. The second part of the category, when 
there is one, gives the general drift of the preliminary 
narrative solely with regard to its direct reference to the 
first part, which, in fact, follows it, and forms the denoue- 
ment. It often happens these references are mere hints, 
but they show that the narrator was gradually working up 
to a finale, of which he had a clear picture in his mind. 
For there are origin-stories in which the previous incidents 
are quite irrelevant to the conclusion, and the origin ap- 
pears to be merely the result of a chance thought. 

In so far as they have all been collected within the last 
hundred years, all these origin-stories are modern. But 
though their dress belongs to recent times, many of the 
ideas they embody diverge so greatly from the modern 
standard of physical law and of reason, that some of them 
may be regarded as survivals from an older stage of 
mental development. Though the word survival strictly 
connotes the notion of uninterrupted continuity between 
its extreme terms, it does not involve any exact notion of 
length. Survivals may therefore be of different lengths or 
ages. If a line A z be taken to represent the earliest 
possible survival down to the present time, then F z, S z, 
V z will represent shorter ones, the alphabetical distance 
of F, S, V from z showing their relative distances from 

^ True of twenty categories, 1-5, both inclusive, 7, 9c?, 91^, 11, 12, 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 31 1 

that point. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine 
solely by an a priori argument which survivals have a 
length s z and which a length v z. The difficulty lies in 
deciding whether the mental state of people between the 
periods s and v had been at such a standstill that the 
author of an origin in the latter period thought exactly as 
if he had lived in the former period, or whether he was 
merely imitating an old type when giving expression to a 
whimsical fancy with full consciousness that it was so. For 
it cannot be doubted that the Finns in their mental crea- 
tions of later times, after contact with more civilised 
peoples, did employ tropes and metaphors in their poetry 
merely as ornament, without intending them to be taken 
literally. The wide diffusion and popularity of riddles 
also proves that very quaint metaphors were in the mouths 
of the people, who used them in joke, and not in earnest. 
A regular law, too, of development requires a transition 
period between the strange beliefs they must have held 
before they occupied Finland, and those which they hold 
now. During such a stage, some persons would take a 
marvellous statement as matter of fact ; others, possessed 
of more insight, would understand it as a humorous or 
poetical figure of speech. 

Though a priori reasoning is unavailing by itself, yet, 
combined with other data, we are sometimes able to 
assign to some origin-stories an approximate date. Tak- 
ing into consideration that, in the life and imagination of 
a race of hunters like the early Finns, animals must have 
played a greater role than they did in later times, we may 
perhaps assume this : that, when an animal origin is 
ascribed to a subject in some stories, and a non-animal 
origin in others of similar type, the former belongs to a 
rather older stratum of thought, or to a survival of greater 
length. For instance: i. In one version of the cowhouse 
snake's origin (4i<r/)^ this is attributed to the slaver of a 

1 The figures in round brackets refer to the origin-stories as they 
have appeared numbered in Folk-Lore. From 1-24 in vol. i, from 

312 An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

wolf running along the ice, which fell on a pike swimming 
under the ice. The slaver drifts ashore, is picked up by 
a girl, and carried to a cowhouse, where it becomes a 
snake. 2. In one version of the snake's origin (iirt) this 
is attributed to the saliva which fell from the mouth of a 
sleeping Hiisi, or Devil. An ogress swallows it, and find- 
ing it too hot, spits it out on the sea. It drifts ashore, is 
hardened into a spiral form, and then Hiisi gives it life. 
3. A fir-tree also originates from the hair of a wolf running 
along the ice, from the tooth of a pike swimming under 
the ice. A hair falls off, a girl picks it up and plants it, 
with the root-end in the ground. It then turns into a fir 
(23^). 4. In a variant (23^), a fir-tree originates from the 
tooth of a pike caught by a son of the Death-god. The 
tooth falls on the grass, and from it grew a fir. 5. On the 
other hand, an oak (22^^) originates from the tooth of a 
comb, or the bristle of a brush which broke off while a 
dark, shaven-headed girl was combing and brushing her hair. 
As the word for oak is a loan-word from a Slav language, 
as the conception savours more of home than of forest life, 
and the more modern brush is introduced, as well as the 
older comb, there is some reason for considering this fifth 
story younger than the third and fourth. From the 
similarity of the opening, and the animal-origin common 
to both, the first and third may be considered older than 
the second. From a general likeness between the third 
and fourth, they may be classed together, and, therefore, 
with the first, all which are therefore older than the second 
and fifth. But the word for cowhouse-snake in the first is 
a Russian loan-word, and probably the notion of a cow- 
house-snake as well. So the third and fourth will not be 
older than when this borrowing took place, and all the five 
origins, though they belong to two or three periods, are 
none of them really archaic, though the lengths of their 
survivals may be measured by hundreds of years. 

25-33 in vol. ii, from 34-40 in vol. iii, No. i ; the remainder have yet to 
be published. 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 313 

One more group of variants may be touched upon to 
show the hesitation one may feel at necessarily attributing 
to archaic times — and by that I mean before the Finns 
came in contact with European races — a mode of origin 
which, on the face of it, seems to belong to that epoch. It 
must be remembered that the following words, on which 
much depends, are importations from without: Bride and 
salmon are old loans from the Lithuanian; iron, gold, and 
churn are from the Gothic, or from old Scandinavian ; while 
the suffix -tar, in ' Luonnotar', is from one of these three 
extraneous sources. In one of the origins of iron (25^), 
three maidens, all of them brides, are engendered in a 
bubbling spring from the spawn of a golden fish, from 
the thrust^ of a salmon, and become the origin of iron 
ore. Now, undoubtedly, one is tempted, at first sight, to 
remit such a conception to archaic times. In a variant, all 
three Luonnotars (daughters of nature) are evolved from 
Jesus rubbing his two hands together. In another version 
(25^) the three maiden brides simply grow upon an island, 
and afterwards shed their milk on the ground, from which 
sprouts of iron grew up. In a fourth version (25^) it is 
Ukko, the creative god that dwells in the air, who pro- 
duces the three daughters of nature to be mothers of iron 
ore by rubbing his two hands together on the top or end 
of his left knee. I take this to mean that he was seated, 
and that, resting his left hand on his left knee, he rubbed 
with his right hand. This is very much the motion of 
grinding with a quern, where the lower stone is fixed and 
the upper one rotates. The fact of seeing meal, or per- 
haps fire, generated, so to speak, from a handmill, may 
have given rise to a figure of speech, by which living 
beings were developed from rubbing the hands together. 
For this is not an uncommon mode of generation in 
Finnish poetry, and also occurs in a prose origin. This 

1 In my previous translation I have translated 'thrust' by ' aperture', 
in accordance with a note sent me by my friend Lektor Raitio, but 
loukc certainly has the meaning of ' thrust, push, knock', etc. 

314 ^'^ Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

being so, while origination fron:i fish-spawn is unique in 
Finnish origin-stories, it is fair to assume that the latter,, 
in spite of its apparent antiquity, is only a variant, and 
was purposely substituted for the commoner version. The 
first question to solve, then, is, What connection in idea 
exists between rubbing the hands and a fish spawning? 
The second is to explain how the substitution of one mode 
of origination by the other took place. 

The association of ideas between handrubbing and a 
fish spawning lay in this: that one suggested the notion 
of grinding with a mill, while the other gave the idea of 
churning. It will be allowed that these two actions are 
not so very dissimilar; at least, that there is no antithesis 
between them. That rubbing the hands in the way I have 
suggested is not at all unlike rubbing two small millstones 
together is obvious. That a fish spawning evoked the 
notion of churning is proved by three Finnish riddles, 
which run as follows: "A golden salmon spawns on a 
narrow knoll, the spawn splutters on the top." " A 
salmon spawns among rapids, the milt splatters on the 
top." " A golden bream is spawning, the spawn plashes 
on the top." The answer to all is the same : " The butter 
which rises to the top in churning." {Arvoituksia, Nos. 
754) 75 5> 662.) The full meaning is this : The butterdash 
inside a churn full of milk is compared to a golden salmon 
or bream plashing about in the water, and discharging 
spawn, which is likened to butter. From this it is evident 
that, to anyone who knew the riddles — and riddles are 
very numerous and popular in Finland — churning and 
spawning were distinctly associated. Hence, to see any- 
one at work churning, might recall the idea of a fish milt- 
ing. An objection may be raised that in the origin-story 
three maiden brides are produced from spawn as an 
additional action, while in the riddles the action ends 
with producing spawn, which is used metaphorically as the 
equivalent of butter. The answer is, that the author of 
the salmon-spawn variant could not change the final 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 315 

result of the action, which required that three maiden 
brides, or three Luonnotars, should be produced somehow 
or other, to be mothers of iron. What he did do, was to 
substitute the mode of action by which they were origi- 
nated from one by rubbing or grinding to one by churn- 
ing. And the fact that he derives them mediately from 
the spawn, and not immediately from the fish, tends to 
show that the notion of churning had passed through his 
mind. There are other reasons for supposing that he was 
not thinking of a real salmon, and that is the use of the 
words hete and Idhde, to indicate the place in which it was 
spawning. The first means the water under a quaking 
bog, a boggy pool, a spring of water; the second means a 
source or spring of water. Therefore neither of them are 
places in which a salmon, or, indeed, any fish, could really 
be found; though either, in riddle language, are quite 
appropriate, from the confined area they imply, to stand 
for a churn. Further, the word ' thrust' is not a very 
fitting parallel word for ' spawn' ; but if he was thinking 
of a butterdash, it would be perfectly congruous. 

The second question for solution is, to explain how 
origination by handrubbing was substituted for one sug- 
gestive of churning. I imagine this to have been done 
simply by the author of the variant happening to see a 
churn, or hear it working just at the moment when he was 
about to recite the birth of the mothers of iron. If he 
knew the riddles — which is likely enough — the sight or 
sound of a churn would readily evoke in his mind the 
thought of a milting fish, and this he could easily inter- 
weave into his incantation as an impromptu variation. 
The origin of iron was recited over anyone who had re- 
ceived a wound from an iron instrument, and therefore, in 
most instances, the recitation would take place in a farm- 
house : for a wounded person would naturally return or 
be carried home, to be treated there, and to allow of a 
wizard being sent for. 

But if all that I have adduced is rejected as merely 

3i6 An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

plausible, we must fall back upon the argument from loan- 
words. The idea then for which we have to find an 
approximate date may be worded as follows: "Three 
maidens, all of them brides, were engendered from the 
spawn of a golden salmon to be mothers of iron." Strik- 
ing out the words 'brides', 'golden salmon', and 'iron', the 
statement becomes: " (Three) girls were engendered from 
the spawn of a fish." Undoubtedly such a notion may 
have been current among the early Finns in archaic times 
(though this cannot be affirmed with certainty), but the 
longer theme cannot be older than the introduction of the 
word for iron — a really essential word, since it is bound up 
with the ultimate purpose of the whole act. Rauta (iron) 
belongs to the older series of loan-words, and may there- 
fore have been put in circulation quite early in the present 
era, together with its origin. But, nevertheless, the origin 
itself cannot be ascribed to the archaic period in the sense 
I have defined it above, as the metal was then unknown. 
And my own impression is, that it does not coincide in 
date with the first introduction of iron among the Finns, 
but is a good deal later. 

There are many other interesting points that might be 
discussed with reference to these origin-stories, but to do 
so would be to digress from the main object in view. I 
shall therefore pass on at once to the analysis proper. As 
it is convenient sometimes t,o employ abbreviations for 
the sake of greater conciseness, the following will be used : 
S. stands for any inanimate subject; L. S. for a living 
subject, the origin of which is sought ; O. for any inani- 
mate object; F. M. for father and mother: when either 
letter is in italics, that particular parent is inanimate from 
the modern point of view; B. stands for birthplace. In 
the brief summary of the narrative, the words that hint 
at, or have some special bearing upon S., F., M., or O., are 
sometimes in italics. 

I. S. or L. S. is born o/F. M. or M. T/ie character of 
the parents is reflected in L. S. {No narrative?) 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 317 

Thus the snail, a term which seems to include other 
noisome creatures, is the ofifspring of the son of the Death- 
god and the daughter of Pain (14). And Bloody Flux, 
Scab, and Pestilence, all of them injuries wrought by 
spells, are the children of a parish harlot (43^). 

The following foreign example belongs apparently to 
this or to the next category. The Khalka Mongols of the 
Eastern Altai believe that the father of the Berset race 
was a wolf, living in a wood by a lake, with whom lived a 
reindeer. From them was born a son, the ancestor of the 
Bersets.^ Probably these Mongols see some resemblance 
of character between themselves and wolves. 

2a. S. or L. S. is born of F. M. or M. The character of the 
parents is reflected in (L.) S. Descriptive points in the 
narrative hint at the nature, general character, or habitat of 
(L.) S. For instance, skin-eruption is born of a water 
Hiisi who had been rowing in a copper boat, and reached 
land like a strawberry (34*^), which looks like a hint at the 
redness of the skin in some skin-diseases. Cancer is the 
son oi a. furious, iron-toothed old woman, who swaddled him 
in bloody garments and finally sent him to destroy and 
corrupt human flesh (30). Rickets, Worms, Cancerous 
Sore, Sharp Frost, and many other injuries from spells, 
are the result of a union between the daughter of Sharp 
Spikes and a bearded sea-monster or giant (43^). The 
mention of the mother going first to the Hill of Paiji in 
hopes of being confined there, and then to Pohjola, the 
home of witchcraft and gloom, where she finally brings to 
birth, hint at the evil nature of these maladies, coming as 
they do from such an ill-omened birthplace. Other 
examples are the Wolf {loc), Rickets (32^), Scab (33), 
Fire {^2d), Courts of Law (44), Water {"^ib, d). 

The Kirghis of Tarbagatai relate that three women in 
their labour clutched — the first, the earth ; the second, a 
tree ; the third, the mane of a horse. From the first was 
born the Chinaman, whose land is vast and whose people 

^ Gardner, F.L. four rial, iv, p. 21. 

3i8 An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

is numerous ; from the second, the Russian, whose forests 
are many, and whose people are numerous ; from the third, 
the Kasak, who has little hair on the head, and is but a 
small people.^ 

2b. S. or L. S. is born of F. M. or F. The character of 
the parents is reflected in L. S. A single remark or several 
descriptive points in the narrative hint at the nature, habits, 
or habitat of (L.) S. 

This is a variant of the above, the only difference being 
that the father is inanimate from our point of view. Thus 
the dog (5<t) is the result of the union of the lowest class of 
the women of Pohjola and the Wind. To account for the 
dog's hunting propensities, he is swaddled and cradled by 
the old wife of the Forest. His domesticity results from 
having had his teeth rubbed with honey by the best girl in 
Pohjola. Having Wind for a father of course accounts for 
his fleetness of foot. The snake is the child of the girl of 
Death who is made his own by the East Wind as she lay 
asleep on a meadow (ii^). That this was done unawares 
was probably intended to point to the crafty nature and 
perhaps the habitat of snakes. Many maladies which are in- 
duced by spells are the children oi Louhiatar,w\\o swallowed 
some iron groats which had been pounded by the Death- 
god's daughter (43^, and thus originated them. The 
remark that she gave birth to them in the bloody hut of 
Hiisi's home, hints at their horrible nature, as it indicates 
a fiendish birthplace. Other examples are the Lizard 
(i3«). Fire (42/), Injuries from Spells (43^, b), Sharp Frost 


In the following North American example the differ- 
ence is that L. S. originates from F. M. instead of F. M. 
The Tsimshians of British Columbia believe that man is 
born from a union between the Raven-god and an Elder- 
berry bush. After the Raven-god had formed the world, 
and every living creature but man, he decided to make a 
race endowed with qualities that would allow them to have 
' Gardner, F.-L.f., iv, p. 23. 

An Analysis of certain Fi7inish Origins. 319 

dominion over the whole world, a race that could claim 
him as a father. He, therefore, ingerminated a stone and 
an elderberry bush at the same time. If the bush should 
happen to produce first, people would have nails on their 
fingers and toes, and would in time die ; if the stone, 
they would be covered with scales and would not die. 
The bush produced first, and consequently people have 
nails, are subject to sorrow and sickness, and finally to 

3. L. S. is born of F. M. Inconsequentially its members 
are made of all sorts of contemptuous or ridiculous objects. 

Thus the bear's father and mother are called Bearworts, 
but yet the old wife of the North made his head out of a 
knoll, his back from a pine, his teeth from stone, his ears 
from the stuffing of a shoe {'^d). Though the dog is 
the child of eight fathers and one mother, yet the Earth's 
wife made him a head from a knoll, his legs of stakes, his 
ears of water-lily leaves, his gums and nose of the East 
Wind {$b). So, too, the lizard, though its father and mother 
are both called Brisks, yet it is made of birchwood, of aspen 
fungus, etc., jumbled up together and poked under a pile 
of wood — its usual habitat (13^). 

4. L. S. is bom of F. M. A mere statement of fact. 

The cabbage-worm has a blue butterfly for its father and 
mother (18). The pig's mother is called Sow, and its father 
Snouty. The origins of the lizard (13^, e) are obscure, but 
seem to belong to this category. 

5. S. is born of F. M. Descriptive poiyits in the narrative 
account for the nature and character of S. 

Sharp Frost is born near a lump of ice, of an ever-devas- 
tating father and a breastless mother, by reason of which 
he had to be suckled by a snake, nownshtd by hard weather, 
and rocked to sleep by the North Wind (49^). 

According to an Uigur legend, a famous hero, Pukia 
Khan, was born from a tree which seems to have been 

^ Deans, y. of Amer. F.-L., iv, p. 34. 

320 An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

ingerminated by a wonderful light which was seen to 
shine on the tree before it began to swell. ^ 

6. S. is born of F. M. No apparent likeness between 
parents and offspring. Its epitJiets explain its nature. 

A swelling on the neck, with the epithets ' horror of the 
earth' and ' Lempo's whore', is the offspring of Mist both 
on the father's and mother's side {;}f>). A stone, the son of 
Kimmo Kammo and his wife, is termed ' the heart's-core 
of an ogress', ' a slice of Mammotar's liver', ' the spleen of 
a ploughed field', 'the liver of dry land' (50^). Another 
version (50(^) is too obscure to classify, but appears to 
refer to a reddish stone of supposed meteoric origin, like 
the * Herrgottsteine' of the Swabians. 

7. S. or L. S. originated, generated, made from O. Some 
sort of likeness, often very slight, is found between them. 
{No appropriate narrative^ 

For instance, the likeness between a wasp's sting and a hair 
suggested the origin of the wasp from a woman's hair (19). 
The viper, when thought of with regard to length, general 
shape, and flexibility, originates from a stony thread spun 
by the Maiden of Night (i2«) ; but when pictured as coiled 
up it is generated from a ring (i2<^). The resemblance 
between flakes of rusty iron and scab suggested the idea of 
deriving the former from the scab formed on a man that 
had been badly burnt (25^. It is a common incident in 
folk-tales in many parts of the world that a comb thrown 
down under certain circumstances becomes an impenetrable 
forest. So it is not surprising that an oak should spring 
up from the tooth of a comb that broke off while a dark 
girl with smooth head was combing her hair {22d). Other 
examples are Man (i), Toothworm ij^Ta), Cowhouse-snake 
(41a, b). 

Other origin-myths may be brought under this formula, 
such as the creation of the earth and sky from the lower 
and upper parts of a broken egg, as described in the old 

' Radlofif, Das Kudatku Biliky i, p. 1. 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 321 

and new Kakvala} In the Vafthrudnis-uial the earth is 
made from Yxvixx's flesh, the mountains from his bones, the 
heavens from his skull, the sea from his blood, the clouds 
from his brains?- A legend from Mahren in Austria relates 
that rivers take their origin from the tears shed by a giant's 
wife as she lamented his death. ^ In a Tatar story the hop- 
plant originates from the bozvstringoi 2i. man that had been 
turned into a bear.'* The Andaman islanders relate that 
trees originated from the arrows which Tomo, the first man, 
shot off after stringing flies to them^ (9). Though there is 
a narrative attached to some of these examples, it has no 
bearing upon the final denouement. 

8. S. originated from O. No external or other likeness 
between the in. {No proper narrative.) 

There is only one example. Pleurisy, fever, inflamma- 
tion — for all these are covered by the Finnish word — origi- 
nated from the mist and fog sifted out by the Mist and Fog 
maiden at the end of a misty promontory (35^). If this 
means that long exposure to fog and damp induces inflam- 
mation of the internal organs, a recent date must be 
assigned to the origin, especially as the ailment is not even 
personified, as is always the case with other maladies. 

Substituting L. S. for S., the Amazulu have a legend that 
the first man and woman sprang from a reed in the water,^ 
and the Ainos of Japan that rotten branches or roots of 
trees sometimes turn into bears.'' A sub-group of this 
would be : L. S. originated from L. O., no likeness. This 
includes many metamorphoses. For instance, the Mongols 
say the woodpecker was formerly a man, and was trans- 
formed into a bird for theft.^ Some West African people 

1 O. K., i, 270-315 ; N. K., i, 201-244. 

2 Vigfusson and Powell, Corpus poet. Borealc, i, p. 64. 
^ Vemaleken, Myth. u. Braiiche in Oesterreich, p. 363. 

* Radlofif, Proben der Volkslitt. der Tiirk. Siberietts, i, p. 286. 
'" Man,/, of Anthrop. Institute, xii, No. 2, p. 165. 
® Callaway, Relig. System of the A7nazidu, p. 42. 
^ Chamberlain, Aino Folk-tates, p. 54. 
^ Gardner, F.-L. /., iii, p. 328. 

322 All Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

believe that all men are descended from a large spider.' 
The Missassagua Indians of Ontario relate the following 
succinct legend : " Long ago a girl wandered into the woods, 
and became a fox-bird."- 

9^. S. or L. S. originated from O. Some external or 
internal likeness, often very slight, between them. A single 
remark or several descriptive points in the naj'rative hint at 
the character, properties, habits, or habitat of^L.) S. 

The origins under this heading amount to about fourteen 
per cent, of the whole. But there are some that are 
hardly distinguishable from those of the seventh category. 
All classification is necessarily artificial, and the boundary 
between two contiguous sections is often scarcely percep- 
tible. Here are a couple of instances. A ruddy fir-tree 
grew from the tooth of a pike caught by the rt'rt'-cheeked 
son of the Death-god (23^^). Here there seems to be an 
allusion to the ruddy bark of some coniferce in the red 
cheeks of the agent by whom the pike was captured. 
Again, rust in corn originated from the blood of an old 
woman who had fallen asleep on a cold mossy swamp, and 
on waking had rubbed her hands till blood fell upon the 
moss (46). The blood falling on moss appears to be a 
hint that rust attacks vegetable life, though it is very 
obscure so far as corn specifically is concerned. A 
Swabian legend, mentioned below, is much clearer upon 
this point. A toothworm (37<^) originates from bits of 
besom which stuck in the teetJi oi 2ii furious old woman after 
she had swept the sea, and had twirled the broom over her 
head. The bits of besom of course allude to the black 
spots in decayed teeth, the mention of teeth indicates the 
habitat of the toothworm, while the epithet 'furious' applied 
to the old woman points to violent attacks of toothache. 
In a variant (37^) the girl is a blind girl of Pohjola, where 
the blindness of the agent refers to the blind indiscrimin- 
ating way in which the toothworm goes to work. Other 

^ Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples, p. 339. 

2 Chamberlain,/, of Amcr. F.-L., ii, p. 141. 

All Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 323 

examples are the Bear (3c), Seal (9), Pike (17), Birch (20)^ 
Trees {zy,/), Copper (24*^), Iron (25/), Toothworm (37^, 
f), Cowhouse Snake {41c, e,f), Chaff in the Eye (4^), Salves 
(48/^, d). 

In a Swabian legend the red colour of shoots of rye 
when they first appear above the surface is attributed to 
Cain having killed Abel on a rye field, which thus became 
reddened with innocent blood.^ According to an old Norse 
belief, the dew in the valleys is the foam that drops from the 
mouth of Hrimfaxi, the horse that draws the nig/it from the 
east over the Blessed Powers.^ In a Chinese legend rain 
is the tears of a disconsolate goddess that had been sent to 
earth with a message, but had fallen in love with and 
married a cowherd. In course of time she was summoned 
to return to her home in the sky. Hence the tears.^ The 
Maori of New Zealand relate that though Raki (heaven) 
and Papa (earth) had been separated — formerly they had 
been united — yet they still loved each other. Mist and 
dew are the tears of Papa for Raki, are the messengers in 
the form of clouds to carry the damp air and steam ta 
Raki. When the west wind blows it is Raki tickling the 
ears of Papa.* In another version it is said that the vast 
heaven, as he mourns his separation from his beloved, drops, 
frequent tears upon her bosom, and men term these dew- 
drops.^ The Ainos of Japan assert that hares originated 
from the snozvballs with which the children in the sky 
pelted each other. To stop the hares from quarelling 
Okikurumi beat each with di firebrand. Hence the body 
of a hare is white because made of snow, while its ears are 
black from being burnt with the firebrand.^ 

A sub-group of this, with the difference that L. S. origi- 

^ Meyer, Sagen, Sitteit., etc., aiis ScJiwabcn., p. 248. 
^ Vigfusson and Powell, op. cit., i, p. 63. 
^ Gray, China, i, p. 263. 

* White, T/ie Arte. Hist. 0/ the Maori, i, p. 25. 

* Grey, Polynes. Mythol. and Maori Legends, p. 9. 
" Chamberlain, Aino Folk-tales, p. 9. 

Y 2 

324 ^^n Analysis of certain Finnish Orlglnsl 

nates from L. O. instead of from O., would include some 
transformations of men into animals. For instance, the 
Zulus relate that an idle tribe of the Amafene that did not 
like to dig, but to eat at other people's expense, were turned 
into baboons. At their chief's bidding they collected food 
and went into the wilderness, after fastening on behind 
them the handles of their digging picks. These handles 
turned into tales, hair grew upon their bodies, and so they 
became baboons.^ 

^b. L. S. is O. Some external likeness. Descriptive 
points in the narrative hint at the nature and habitat of 
L. S. 

This subdivision, which is closely related to ga, the only 
difference being ' is' for ' generated from', contains but 
one example. Toothworms are grains of iron pulverised 
by an ogress. In her attempt to swallow them they stick in 
her teeth, thereby causing int^nsQ pain (37^). 

According to the Khasias of the Himalaya, the spots in 
the moon are the ashes thrown in h.\s face by his mother- 
in-law, with whom he falls in love every month,- 

10. S. or L. S. originated from O. No external likeness. 
A single remark or several descriptive points in the narrative 
hint at the qualities, properties, or habitat of(l^.) S. 

Salt originated from a fiery spark, struck by the Thunder- 
god, which fell into the sea, and dissolved into rock-salt (47). 
The fiery spark seems an allusion to the pungent quality 
of salt, and its fall into the sea to the seawater from which 
salt was obtained. The habitat alone is hinted at in the 
origin of the wolf (loa), and of the lizard (13^), from a 
pendant or pearl that fell into the grass and brushwood. 
Though in the wolf's case it is made a little clearer by the 
remark that the girl from whose person the trinket fell was 
travelling over heaths and swamps, the usual haunt of 
wolves. Three qualities of iron originated from the milk 
of three different colours shed upon a swamp by three 

' Callaway, Nurseiy Tales of the Zulus, i, p. 178. 
^ Tylor, Primitive Culture, \, p. 354. 

An Analysis of certain Fin^iish Origins. 325 

daughters of nature (25^). Other examples are the Tit- 
mouse (16), Iron (25^). 

Under this heading may be grouped several foreign ex- 
amples. The Swabians poetically imagine that the wild 
rose smells so sweet because the Mother of God (a symbol 
of sweetness and fragrance)once dried her veil upon such a 
bush.^ The modern Icelanders relate that C/i}'tst, while 
walking with Peter along the seashore, spat into the sea, and 
from his spittle a stone-grig developed. Peter also spat, 
and his saliva turned into a female stone-grig. Both these 
are excellent eating. The Devil, who was not far behind, saw 
this, and also spat into the sea. But his spittle changed 
into a jellyfish, which is fit for nothing.^ According to a 
Slavonian legend, God, while travelling to the earth, became 
/lot and tij'ed. A drop of His szveat fell on the ground and 
developed into the first man.^ The Mazurs of Bukovina 
and Galicia are, in the opinion of their neighbours, as ugly 
as owls, as filthy as pigs, as lazy as oxen, as ravenous as 
wolves, and as objectionable as the Devil, because the first 
Mazur was born from an e^g laid by an owl, and suc- 
cessively incubated by a pig, an ox, a wolf, and finally by 
the Devil himself* Some Mongols believe that the Mar- 
mot originates from a very skilful archer of the name of 
Marmot, who cut off his thumb and buried it with the 
words, " Be a Marmot."^ According to the same people, 
three evergreen trees sprang up where a crow, sitting on a 
cedar-tree, had upset some wonderful water. The crow had 
been given a cup of precious water by a lama to pour over 
the heads of men that they might become immortal. But 
it had flown to the cedar-tree, and had begun to croak, with 
the result that the water was spilt in the wrong place.^ 

1 Meyer, op. cit., p. 248. 

■^ Amason, Iceland. Legends, Eng. transl., p. 11. 
^ Leger, Contes pop. Slaves, p. 117; Wratislaw, Sixty Folk- tales, 
p. 254. 

* Kaindl, Zeitschr.f. Volkskunde, i, p. 182. 

* Gardner, F.-L. Journal, iii, p. 318; iv, p. 27. 

326 An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

According to an incident in an Eskimo legend, a father, 
from feelings of revenge, threw his daughter overboard out 
of a boat, and, when she clung to the gunwale, cut off her 
fingers, which were then transformed into seals and whales.^ 
The Navajo Indians relate that the first human pair were 
formed from two ears of corn ; the yellow ear became a 
woman, the white one a man. The Wind-god gave t^iem 
life, the god of the white crystal rock gave them minds, the 
goddess of grasshoppers gave them voices.'^ 

II. S. c>r L. S. originated from O. No external litseness. 
The evil or disgusting character of O. is reflected in (L.) S. 
Sometimes descriptive remarks in the narrative hint at the 
nature^ character, or habitat of L. S. 

The evil and disgusting nature of the spittle or the mucus 
of a Hiisi, a Juutas, or an Ogress, is reflected in the 
character of the snake (ii^, b, c, d), and the wolf {lob), 
to which it gave birth. Rickets or atrophy is born from 
the blood that dropped from the beak of Hiisi's evil-omened 
bird the raven (S2b), and a snake from the blood that 
spirted from a distaff, while the Death-god's iron-toothed 
old wife was spinning (i i^). Other examples are the Cow- 
house Snake (4id), Sharp Frost (49^). 

The latter part of the Icelandic legend above, in which 
the jellyfish owes its origin to the Devil's saliva, belongs to 
this category. The South Slavonians relate that lice and 
fleas originated from the zvhite and black scales of a snake 
which Father Noah threw into the fire to punish it for hav- 
ing taken a bite out of a swallow's tail.^ The Mongol 
Diurbiuts say that the Tangnu Uryankaits (a Tartar 
people) are descended from a stone, because they have no 
noma books, and call themselves black Uryankai.* In 
other words, they were regarded as blockheads, and it seems 
uncertain in this instance whether their alleged descent from 

^ Rink and Boas,/, of Amer. F,-L., ii, p. 125. 
- Mathews,,/, of Anier. F.-L., iii, p. 90. 
2 Krauss, Sagen u. MiircJi. d Sildslaven, ii, p. 154. 
* Gardner, F.-L. fourn., iii, p. 317. 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 


a stone is real or metaphorical. Compare the metaphorical 
use of earth, tree, and horse's mane in the Kirghis legend 
quoted above under 2a. 

12. L. S. originated from O. Some externat ti/ceness 
between them. Inconsequentially all its members are made of 
all sorts of contemptuous or harmful tilings. 

Though the raven is generated from charcoal sticks, or 
from coals on a charcoal hill, yet its head is said to be made 
of potsherds, its legs of Hiisi's spindles, his beak of a 
sorcerer's arrow-tip, etc. (i5«, b\ 

13. S. is generated from sevei'alO. s, ivhich are botli physical 
objects and mejital emotions. 

Skin eruption, conceived as a human being, is by birth 
from the earth, and results from the resentment of the 
earth, of water, or the hidden venom of a frog (34^). 

The Swabians believe that when anyone commits 
suicide by hanging himself, a great storm arises because 
the pure air is enraged at being defiled by a corpse.^ In 
other words, S. (a gale) is originated from the resentment 
of O. (air). 

14. S. is made from O. by a magic song. 

A boat is made from a piece of oak by Vainamoinen, 
through singing magic songs (27). 

15. L. S originated from O. by an action {blowing). 
Some external likeness betiveen L. S. and O. The character 
of the agent is reflected in L. S. 

A snake is produced from a hollow reed into which a 
fiend blew (u/). In Finnish poetry 'hollow reed' is an 
occasional synonyme for a snake. The action of blowing 
was evidently intended to impart life, and as the agent was 
a fiend, the creature he thus animated became possessed of 
evil qualities. 

16. L. S, originated from O. by an action {gnazving). 
Though there is no likeness betweeji L. S. and O., yet there 
is a relation betiveen them. The character of the agent is 
reflected in L. S. 

1 Meyer, op. cit., p. 257. 

328 An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

The toothworm originated from a bit of bone gnawed by 
a fox (37,^). One of the bases on which sympathetic magic 
rests is the beHef that to imitate an action produces a 
similar result. The thought underlying this origin is per- 
fectly analogous. The gnawing of a bone by a fox pro- 
duces a gnawing of the teeth by a toothworm, partly from 
the likeness of the action, partly from the likeness of 
material of bones and teeth. 

17. S. originates from O. by an action {striking). De- 
scriptive points in the narrative Jiint at tlic nature a7td 
habitat of S. 

Fire (42^, e) is struck in the sky by the Thunder-god, or 
other demiurge, from a sword, and given to a maiden to 
nurse. While doing so she drops it — probably because it 
burnt her, though the reason is not stated— to the earth, 
where it burns up a great tract of countr}-, and finally hid 
in a tree. In another version it is squeezed into birch 
fungus, or tinder spunk, by a demiurge, an incident which 
accounts for this material easily taking fire and smouldering 
for a long time. Gripes and colic originated from a lean 
Lapp boy striking a man on the chest with a bloody axe 


The Tuba Tatars relate that fire was invented by 

Ulgon's three daughters striking iron against a stone, 
though they only did so after overhearing a sarcastic re- 
mark which Kudai (God) had made to himself with regard 
to them.^ 

18. L. S. originates from spinning. Its members made of 
all sorts of contemptuous and Jiarmful tilings. 

A snake is spun by Evil Beings, but its head is made of 
a bad bean, its eyes of Lempo's flax seed, its ears of 
Lempo's birch, its snout of Tuoni's pick, etc. (i \Ji). 

19. S. is made quite naturatty from O. by human or 
quasi-human agency. Some descriptive remarks Jiint at the 
qualities, pj'operties, use, etc., of S. 

Arrows are made by a sorcerer from a tall pine that 

1 Radloff, Probcn d. Volksliit., i, p. 286. 

An Ajialysis of certain Finnish Origins. 329 

stood on the Hill of Pain, or from a metal pendant that 
fell from a maiden as she was going to the wars, but was 
caught by the wizard ere it touched the ground (26^, b). 
Here the Hill of Pain and going to the wars are allusions 
to the deadly nature of these arrows. The elf-bolts which, 
when shot into human bodies, cause pleurisy, stitch, and 
sudden fits, are supposed to be made in a perfectly natural 
manner by Evil BctJigs from the wood of a hellish oak of 
such preternatural size that it concealed the sun and moon, 
and hindered the stars in their courses. Iron is made by 
three maidens, bred from the spawn of a golden salmon, 
who pulverised iron seeds and lumps of steel, which were 
found and taken by God to the smith Ilmarinen, who 
forged them in his smithy {2$e). It does not come out 
clearly whether the maidens made iron out of iron seeds 
(bog-iron ore), which might have been formed from their 
milk, as in other versions (2 5<?, b, c), though this circum- 
stance is not mentioned, or whether they made it out of 
nothing : the latter alternative being much the less pro- 
bable. Copper is made from a variegated stone which the 
smith Ilmarinen happened to find. He took it home, flung 
it into his forge fire, smelted it, and finally moulded it into 
kettles (24<rz). Other examples are the Net {2^a, b, c), Ale 
(39a, b), Brandy (40), Salves (48<5', e,f,g). 

The Armenians of Bukovina and Siebenblirgen have a 
legend which recounts that iron originated from certain 
black stones which a youth found in the cave of a giant 
he had killed. He noticed that the stones were hot and 
molten, but that, in cooling, they hardened into a black 
mass harder than the hardest stone, and also assumed 
certain forms. He therefore took some of the stones — 
white ones — and forged them first into a huge cudgel, then 
into balls, dishes, etc., of iron.^ The river Theiss in 
Hungary is so tortuous because it is a furrow made by a 
plough drawn by a blind horse. A variant makes the 

1 Wlislocki, March, u. Sage?? d. Biikoivinaer ti. Sid'cnbiirger Ar- 
meftier, p. 8. 

330 An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

draught animal a donkey, which kept going out of its 
way in search of thistles.^ The Mongols assert that the 
Taizan lake and another great inland sea occupy the 
cavities made by a great grey ox, which tore up the earth 
with its horns to procure water — there was none on the 
earth at the time — which issued forth in a foaming fountain 
and formed the above sheets of water.- According to the 
Apaches, the earth, when first formed, was a perfectly flat 
plain, but the Black Wind came along with his horns, and, 
bending his head, ript open the earth, and made ravines 
and canons.^ The aborigines of Victoria, in Australia, say 
that Bunjil always carries a knife, and when he had made 
the earth, that he cut it in many places, thus forming 
rivers, creeks, mountains, and valleys. They also relate 
that the first man was built up out of clay by Bunjil, who 
added hair made of stringy bark, and then breathed life 
into the figure he had moulded.'* 

20. S. comes from O. The narrative describes natural 
facts, or what may be taken as such, after making allowance 
for poetic treatment. 

Water came in drops from the clouds, and accumulated 
in a rock crevice. Water-mantle, Vaitta's son, struck the 
rock with a staff, water gushed forth, and eventually be- 
came a great river (Sirt). As Water-mantle, son of a 
mountain, is invoked in a charm against the ravages of 
fire {Loitsurunoja, p. 249), and as another word for cloak 
or mantle is thrice used in riddles [Arvoituksia, p. 141) as a 
metaphor for clouds, it seems likely that here we have a 
poetical image of a personified rain-cloud striking another 
cloud so that water pours forth. Though it is also possible 
that ' striking the rock with a staff' is a reminiscence of 
what Moses did in the desert. In one of the origins of 
salves (48^), an oak, in answer to a question put to it by a 

1 Kdlmdny, Ethnog. Mittheil. aiis Ungaren (1891), p. 8. 
^ Gardner, F.-L.f., ill, p. 321. 

2 Bourke,/. of Amer. F.-L., iii, p. 209. 

* Brough Smith, Aborigines of Victoria, \, p. 423-4. 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 331 

boy, replies that honey had trickled from the clouds down 
under its bark. The boy therefore plucks some of its 
branches, peels off the bark, and boils it, with other in- 
gredients, to make ointment. Another example is Water 


21. L. S. grew from O. A statement of natural fact. 
The narrative describes the circumstances under wliicJi the 
event took place. 

In the origins of flax (2irt, b, c), the plant always grows 
from a natural seed sown in a bed of ashes, though the 
circumstances under which the ashes are obtained differ in 
each case. In the last of these stories there is an 
obscurity. It says that a black jade died on a meadow, 
that by its bones the meadow, a rake, and an old woman 
were burnt, and thus the requisite ashes were obtained. 
How could its bones cause incineration? The following 
riddle seems to give the solution of the difficulty : " A 
horse died on a sandy heath ; a foal kicks in her belly." 
Answer: "A charcoal-pit or kiln." {Arvoituksia, No. 
2 1 1 1 .) The black jade therefore must mean a pile of char- 
coal, and the bones are the sticks of which it is composed. 
In the riddle, the kicking colt seems to be the fire under 
the pile, but in the story we must understand the charcoal 
to be hot. Trees, too (23^, b), grew from seed sown by 
some mythological personage, such as Sampsa Peller- 
voinen, Ahti, Vainamoinen. The oak either springs up 
from an acorn {22a, e), or from a sapling which four 
maidens find and plant on an island, where it grows into a 
dreadful oak-tree. 

The Mississaguas of Ontario relate that Indian corn 
originates from a damaged head of maize found in the 
bed of a fasting-boy, but which had seemed to come to 
him in the form of a little old man, with only a little hair 
over the forehead. The boy's father carefully planted 
every kernel, hoed it well, and was, in time, rewarded with 
a good crop, which enabled him to give corn to his neigh- 

^ Chamberlain,/, of Avicr. F.-L.^ ii, p. 143. 

^^2 An A^ialysis of certain Finnish Origins. 

22. S. gj'ezv frojn O. TJie7-e is a pJiysical relation betzveen 

Iron originates from sprouts of iron that grew up in the 
footprints of a bear (25^). The sprouts of iron refer to 
bog-iron ore, which has a spongy texture, with a tendency 
to assume arborescent forms. This notion that iron 
originated from sprouts seems to me to be the earhest 
germ of the other iron myths (2 5<a:, b). It was a very 
natural observation for anyone famih'ar with the ore, and 
when once this was assimilated in thought to the vegetable 
kingdom, it had to be watered and nourished like any 
other plant. This gave rise to the development of the 
story by an incident in which the daughters of Nature 
spilt milk upon a marsh. The original object of this was 
not, I think, to yield a material from which iron was to 
originate directly, but was rather to fertilize the sprouts 
of iron in the same way that shoots of corn are fertilized 
by rain. 

In the following examples, most of them foreign, the 
earth is made from a handful of earth, or from a grain 
of sand, by a supernatural growth or expansion of the 
same. There is always a tacit assumption that ex niJiilo 
nihil fit. In a short and defective Finnish prose story, the 
Devil, at God's command, descends to the bottom of the 
sea, and brings up some earth, which God rubs between 
His hands, and thus increases it. But the Devil had kept 
back in his mouth some earth, which grows in a similar 
ratio, and causes him intense pain. So God takes the 
earth from the Devil's mouth, and throws it down in 
Pohjola to become stones and rocks.^ According to a 
legend of the Altai Tatars, the world was made by God 
from a handful of earth brought up from the bottom of 
the sea by a man in the shape of a grey goose. On 
making a second descent, he brings up more earth in his 
mouth, which expands and nearl)- chokes him. He spits 

* K. Krohn, EliitJisattija, p. 291. 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 


it out, and the earth becomes hillocks, in swampy ground.^ 
In a Mordwin version of the same story, the man is 
Shaitan.- The Algonquins believed that, in the begin- 
ning, there was only water and a raft, on which were all 
sorts of animals, under the chieftainship of the Great 
Hare. A musk-rat fished up from the bottom of the sea 
a grain of sand, which the Great Hare lets fall on the 
raft, and which grew till it became a great mountain.^ 

23. S. or L. S. originates from B. No parents men- 
tioned. Descriptive points in the narrative, especially those 
relating to the birthplace, account for the nature, character, 
habits, or habitat <y/(L.) S. 

Thus sorcerers were born in Lapland in the Far North 
on a bed of pine-branches (2), merely stating in fact the 
country where the best were supposed to come from or 
were to be found. The bear (3^;, b) was born near the sun, 
moon, and stars, and was then let down to the earth to be 
cradled by a i^cr^j-/- maiden under a fir. His supposed 
heavenly origin is no doubt the result of the respect in 
which he was held, though, perhaps, it is of late date, like 
the baptism which he subsequently underwent at the hands 
of the King of Heaven. Fire, too {j\2b), was born in the 
sky near the seven stars, where it was rocked to sleep by a 
Fire-maiden in a ' golden' thicket on the top of a ' golden' 
knoll. But the spark falls to the earth and kills a child. 
There is a great resemblance between some of the Fire and 
Bear origins, and in this particular one a ' golden' thicket 
and knoll — that is to say, one abounding in game — is appro- 
priate only to the bear's origin. Ague (29) was rocked by 
wind, put to sleep by cold wind, and brought to sufferers by 
means of wind and water in whirlwind. Other examples 
are the Oak {22b), Trees (23^, g), Whitlow (38), Salves (486-). 

The Basutos believe that the first man issued either from 

^ Radloff, Proben, i, p. 176. 
2 F.-L.J.,v\\, p. 75. 

^ Perrot, Mceiirs, Coiitioncs, etc., des Sauvages dc VAnier. scpicnt. 
Public par R. P. J. Tailhan, pp. 4, 5. 

334 ^^^ Analysis of cei'tain Finnish Origins. 

a cave or from a swampy bed of reeds. Some Hereros 
(Western Kaffirs) maintain that man and animals issued 
from a tree, others that men were from a tree and animals 
from a rock.^ 

24. 5". or L. S. originates from B. Its viembers made of 
various fanciful or contemptuous tilings. 

The cat (4) originated on a stove. It has the nose of a 
girl, the head of a hare, a tail made of Hiisi's hair-plait, 
the claws of a snake. The horse (7) is from Hiisi, from a 
mountain. Its head is of stone, its hoofs of rock, its legs 
of iron, its back of steel. This origin seems to have been 
taken from a 'posting' formula, and applies to Hiisi's 
horse in particular, not to horses in general. Gripes or 
Colic is a boy, but nevertheless is made of swamp, of 
coarse needle-points, of the foam of rapids, of the inside of 
an ogress, etc. (31^;, h). Another example is the Elk (6). 

The following Norse description of a shackle, which is 
attributed by Vigfusson and Powell to a period earlier 
than the Vikings, and therefore anterior to A.D. 700, is 
nearly on the same lines. The shackle Gleipni was 
fashioned from the tread of a cat, the beard of a woman, 
the breath of fish, the milk of a bird, the roots of hills, and 
the tail of a bear.^ The difference between this and the 
Finnish examples under categories 3, 12, 24, is that in the 
former all the formative objects are impossible, or nearly so, 
and the spirit which animates the composition is humorous. 
In the latter the spirit is more contemptuous and satirical, 
though a humorous element is sometimes blended with it. 

25. S. i?r L. S. w created by God. 

Thus all trees (23//, z) are created by God, with a few 
exceptions, such as the aspen, rowan, the alder -buckthorn, 
and one or two more which were made by various evil 
beings. Fire, too, in one version (42c), is the creation of 
God, originated from the word of Jesus, and was rocked 
by the Virgin Mary. 

1 Schneider, Dz'e Relig. d. afrik. Naturvolkcr, pp. 74, 76. 
- Vigfusson and Powell, op. cif., i, p. 16. 

An Analysis of certain Finnish Origins. 335 

Though in Finland origin-stories under this heading 
belong to a recent period, the notion of creation by a 
Supreme Being is old enough in itself. Thus the Ama- 
zulus believe that the rain, sun, and moon come from the 
Lord above, Unkulunkulu.^ The aborigines of Victoria 
say the earth, water, sky, men, and animals were made by 
Baiame, who also makes the rain to fall and the grass to 
grow.- The Andaman islanders assume that Pulugu, the 
creator and thunder-god, created the world and all objects, 
animate and inanimate, except the powers of evil.^ 

With this the analysis is brought to a close. It has 
made manifest, I hope with some degree of clearness, the 
train of thought pursued by the authors of the origins, and 
has laid bare the skeleton or framework which underlies 
the narrative. It has also shown the close analogy of 
internal structure between some of the categories, Nos. 13 
and 16, and some popular beliefs, especially such as are 
based on sympathetic magic. This is not surprising. For 
when the mind is engaged in the consideration of cause 
and effect, the mental process must be very similar under 
all circumstances. To illustrate this I will give a couple of 

It is a common incident or practice in the course of the 
marriage ceremony to place in the lap of the bride a male 
child, with the express purpose of insuring male offspring. 
Should her first child happen to be a boy, the circumstance 
is naturally attributed to the above practice, and the line 
of thought pursued by those who practise the custom in 
full belief of its efficacy may thus be formulated. S. (mas- 
culinity) originated from O. (male child) by means of an 
action (placing O. in the bride's lap). A likeness exists 
between S. and O. Such a formula is analogous to cate- 
gory 15. Again, take the following custom, once practised 
at the village of Mammast, near Dorpat, in Esthonia. 

^ Callaway, Relig. Syst. of the A7iiaznlu^ p. 59. 

^ Brough Smith, op. at., ii, p. 284. 

^ Man,/, of Ant hr op. Inst., xii, No. 2, p. 157. 


All Analysis of ce^'tain Finnish Origins. 

During a time of great drought three men used to climb 
up a fir-tree in an old and sacred grove. One of them 
drummed with a hammer on a kettle or a small cask, to 
imitate thunder ; another knocked two firebrands together 
to make the sparks fly ; the third, the rain-maker, sprinkled 
water from a bucket with a bunch of twigs in all direc- 
tions.^ If rain actually fell after this mimic representation 
of a thunderstorm accompanied with rain, the above belief 
and practice might be formulated thus. S. (rain) originated 
from several actions (imitating, thunder, lightning and 
rain). There is a likeness, direct and indirect, between S. 
and the actions. Descriptive points in the narrative hint 
at the nature and accompaniments of S. Examples such 
as these could be multiplied to any extent. But from those 
given we readily perceive how uniform is the mental pro- 
cess, whether employed in imagining the origins of things 
or in evolving what we coldly term superstitious beliefs 
and practices. 

^ Mannhardt, Antike Wald- it. Feldkul/c, p. 342. 

John Abercromby. 


THE legends that are common among South African 
tribes are very numerous, and bear a close resem- 
blance to one another as told by tribes as far apart as the 
Cape Peninsula and the valley of the Zambezi. 

Of those I have heard among the tribes of the South 
many have already appeared in Colonial and English pub- 
lications. The late Dr. Bleek, Mr. Theal, and Bishop 
Callaway collected and published in detail a number of 
stories, sayings, and legends, some of which have come to 
be well known. 

While living among the Giakas, Pondos, Basutos, and 
Tembus, I never made a habit of writing down legends 
in detail, except when such seemed to illustrate some 
particular custom or habit which I observed, and even 
then made merely incidental references for purposes of 
illustration. Such jottings were not intended for publi- 
cation, and, as I made no references to the sources from 
which I obtained them, I have only my own recollection 
to guide me as to what I heard from natives, or may have 
read in Colonial newspaper paragraphs or periodical arti- 
cles, and so may not be able, in all cases, to acknowledge 
my indebtedness to others. 

Quite a number of legends are tinged with European 
ideas to such a degree that it is difficult to discover the 
original under the more recent crust. " Satana", or the evil 
spirit, of whom they had no conception, and no word in 
their language to express the idea conveyed, before they 
first met with Europeans, is now one of the most pro- 
minent figures in story, and those in which he appears are 
" adapted", and the new blended into the old so skilfully 

VOL. III. z 

33^ Bantu Customs and Legends. 

that one marvels at so much ingenuity in a land that 
has no literature, nor even a written language. Of such 
legends the original form is lost, and can only be re- 
covered by means of comparison with those of inner Africa, 
of which many are substantially identical with those of 
the South. 

I am not able to give many legends, absolutely new, in 
the words of the natives themselves, for the reason stated, 
but the substance of the few that can be embodied in the 
compass of a single article I have heard confirmed in a 
variety of ways, chiefly by reference and allusion, in speak- 
ing of other matters, and thus showing familiarity with 
what the story-tellers relate with all the embellishments 
which their art can suggest. 

The manner in which the tribes we term Bantu, for want 
of a more descriptive name, became divided into so many 
independent septs, and at the same time absorbed the 
peoples they conquered, with hardly a trace of their nation- 
ality remaining, is clearly shown by their law of succession. 
Whole tribes of Hottentots have been absorbed, and not a 
trace of their identity remains, except place names, and a 
few words of doubtful meaning. In one case only, that 
of the Gqunaqua tribe, did the Hottentot customs and 
language survive. There, too, the personal character- 
istics of the conquered persisted for generations, and only 
within the last hundred years have they gradually re- 
verted to type, and become once more thoroughly Bantu. 

To begin with the law of inheritance. A chiefs wives 
have each their own rank and station assigned to them 
by law and custom. Frequently the youngest is the 
chief wife, and for this reason : as a man advances in 
life his influence and power grow, and he can then make 
more favourable alliances than at an earlier period when 
his chances are doubtful ; and so it happens that an old 
chief of sixty often marries the daughter of a power- 
ful neighbour, and promotes her to the position of chief 
wife, whose son is his heir. Of the others, one is what 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 339 

is called " the right-hand wife". Her son has, as soon 
as he becomes of age, a considerable portion of the 
government assigned to him by immemorial custom, and 
this he retains while the heir is a minor. This elder 
brother has many opportunities of increasing his influence, 
and becoming a powerful or even dangerous rival to 
his younger brother, so it happens that there are num- 
berless legends, chiefly of the marvellous order, but partly 
true no doubt, of the perfidy of the right-hand wife's 
son, and the sufferings and ultimate triumph of the true 

" Long ago, before our people were scattered", says the 
chronicler, " a chief living far north had many wives and 
children. He was a great warrior, and very rich in cattle- 
After returning from a great war he married the daughter 
of a powerful chief living where the sun sets, and made her 
his chief wife. She had one son, who was his heir. His right- 
hand wife said to her eldest son, 'Your brother is your 
father's heir. He is a child, and does not know anything. 
You are a man, and I bore you when your father was young ; 
I was then his favourite wife, but he now despises me, and 
has not been to my hut for many moons. You are his son, 
and your brother, the son of that child, will make you his 
dog. I hate her and I hate her son, who is robbing you, 
my son, who eat the fruit of my garden, and for whom I 
grind corn and make beer. Why should my son be the 
dog of her son ?'" 

From that day the elder brother began, in Kaffir phrase, 
' to steal the people's hearts". He went among them with 
a sorrowful and dejected air. He refused to take part in 
any national festivity or amusement, and even refused to 
speak to many of his old favourites and companions. When 
asked what was the matter, he always replied : " My heart is 
sore, I am going on a long journey, I am no chief, I have 
no people. These are all my brother's people we see. When 
he is old I shall be despised. I am a wanderer." People 
pitied one who had been so much among them, and whose 

z 2 

340 Bantu Cust 0771s and Lege7ids. 

administration had been popular, and did their best to 
comfort him, assuring him of their continued goodwill ; but 
he only replied : " Bring me an assegai." In this way they 
brought him a large number of assegais, but no one could 
tell what he was going to do with them. They were piled 
up in his house, and no one used any of them. At last he 
called together all the young men who had been his com- 
panions in youth, and gave each a number of assegais. 
They next prepared food for many days, and all left and 
travelled a long distance till they found a strange people 
who were very rich. The chief of that people received the 
strangers and treated them hospitably, showing them all 
his wealth, and giving them everything they needed for 
their journey. They stayed with him to rest, " for", said 
they, " the way we travel is long, and we must eat and 
rest." One morning they rose very early, " while the stars 
were still bright", killed the men who guarded the chief's 
great place, and "carried away all his daughters and as many 
cattle as they could find in that country." They returned 
with a drove of cattle " like the grass", i.e., that could not 
be counted, and each had a beautiful princess whom he 
made his wife. 

Their next step was to build a large village near the 
stream where the chief had his hunting ground, and which 
he " lent" to them because he was old and could no longer 
" throw a spear at a tiger". When the old man died 
there were two chiefs, but the young heir said, " There 
is only one chief in my father's country," and told his 
brother he must give back what had been lent to him 
by his father and go his way. When this was refused, 
the heir raised an army and made war upon his brother, 
who fled, after all his cattle were captured, and lived in a 
cave of a distant mountain with his companions. A croco- 
dile came to the cave and spoke to the fugitive, saying, 
" Hail, chief!" 

He replied, " I am no chief, I am an empty-handed 
wanderer. I came here to die with my friends." 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 341 

" Hoe a garden and put pumpkin seed in it," said the 
crocodile, and departed. 

They hoed a garden in a green spot among the rocks 
and sowed pumpkin seed. His younger brother sent men 
to steal the pumpkins, which were so large that two men 
could not carry one except with difficulty. On their 
return they put the largest pumpkin in the chiefs hut. 
When all were asleep a leopard came out of the pumpkin 
and devoured those who slept there. The elder brother 
having heard of this returned to his people and became 
a great chief. He never killed a crocodile, and his descend- 
ants do "as their father taught them", hold the animal 

Persecuted chiefs were not always so fortunate, and the 
reverse of this legend, told in a dozen different forms, with 
a lion, tiger, or baboon substituted for the crocodile, does 
frequent duty by the hut-fire when the hours hang heavy, 
and the darkness helps to make belief in the supernatural 
stronger than it can be, even in Africa, during daylight, 
A chief is driven away by a successful revolt and wanders 
in the mountains scheming how he is to regain his former 
position. Outlaws and ruffians gather round him, and when 
on the eve of success he goes out, " when the moon is 
bright", to " confer with the spirits of his fathers". He sees 
a "Hili" or an "Incanti", and next morning his companions 
find his body lying on the bare earth, face downwards, and 
" quite shrivelled up". They disperse in terror, and never 
revisit that spot again. As for the chief, his spirit wanders 
for ever " calling for his people". 

Stories illustrative of the wisdom of former chiefs are 
common. One, which is surrounded with quite a halo of 
romance, bears a curiously close resemblance to the Bible 
narrative of King Solomon's decision in the case of the 
mothers who disputed about the possession of the living 
child. In its principal incidents the Kaffir legend is almost 
identical with the Israelitish, only that it is embellished by 
the history and future exploits of the infant whose life was 

342 Bantu Customs and Legends. 

saved by " the wisdom of the father of the people". He 
became a mighty man of valour, and when the old chief 
grew blind he waited upon him as his companion and 
principal councillor. Finally he rose to be a great man, 
and founded a dynasty of chiefs and warriors whose 
descendants are " great men among the people far north" 
to this day. 

The elephant is a sacred animal with most Africans, 
and is greatly revered by all. There is a legend floating 
among the coast natives, and well known to the hillmen of 
Basutoland, that, were elephants exterminated, forest-trees 
would cease to grow. These huge animals feed largely on 
leaves and tender branches of trees, hence the supposed 
connection between them and forest timber. Nor is proof 
of the tradition wanting, if anyone desires to have it. 
There are large tracts of treeless grasslands in South 
Africa. The people who dwelt on these, " long ago", 
killed the elephants, and all the trees of their country 

To the Bathlapin the crocodile is sacred, and by all it is 
revered, but rather under the form of fear than affection. 
I have often thought that the river " calling" of South 
Africa, where there are no crocodiles, is the survival of an 
ancient recollection of the time when the ancestors of the 
present Kaffirs dwelt on the margin of rivers infested 
by these murderous brutes, and where they often saw 
their women drawn underneath when going to the river to 
fetch water. 

Iron is the sacred object among the Baralongs. They 
are expert workers in metal, which they still smelt from 
its native ore by the most primitive methods ever devised 
by man. The process is as follows : — They select a hollow 
stone of considerable size, and chisel out a narrow grove, 
along which the molten metal may flow. A hole is next 
bored, generally underneath, to admit the clay nozzle of a 
primitive bellows. The furnace is now complete, and the 
ore, mixed with charcoal, is piled up in a conical heap on 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 343 

the stone. This is covered over with a mixture of clay 
and fresh cow-dung to prevent the escape of heat. The 
molten metal flows along the grove into moulds, which 
are invariably of the same shape as the article to be 
manufactured. The iron after this is worked cold, or but 
rarely heated. A stone serves as an anvil, and a rude 
lump of metal or stone axe for hammer. The article re- 
ceives its final touches by being ground smooth and neat 
with a stone, in lieu of a file. 

This art was to them, in former days, a source of wealth, 
influence, and power, and the legend is, that when people 
did not know the value of the stones found in their 
brooks, a "wise man" saw a vision : The spirit of his chief 
stood beside him and said, " Gather stones and burn them 
to make spears." The sage thought it was a dream, and 
that the chief was hungry, so he sacrificed an ox. But the 
vision returned, and the chief looked sorrowful. He stood 
a long time, and at last said, "My son, why do you not obey 
your father } Go to the river ; gather stones, and make a 
hot fire. /\fter that, you will see iron with your eyes." 
The sage was greatly frightened, and feared some calamity, 
but dared not refuse. When he had made a hot fire, iron 
came out of it, and then he knew the chief had taken pity 
on his children. He told his son the secret before he died, 
but he was a vain coxcomb, and, wishing to show his own 
wisdom, made iron in the presence of strangers, and so 
the secret of the art was lost to his tribe ; but they have 
always continued to regard iron as sacred above all other 

The Bechuanas were once told by the " Great Spirit" that 
their dead were all to rise and be a great army, but he 
somehow changed his mind, and decided that, like other 
men, defunct Bechuanas must never " look upon the sun 
again". The chameleon and lizard were the respective 
messengers in this case, as they were in more important 
circumstances after man was first made, so it happens that, 
among the Bechuanas, there is a vindictive feeling against 

344 Banhi Customs and Legends. 

lizards, as there is among the Coast-tribes against puff- 
adders. A Coast-man will not kill a puff-adder if he can 
catch it alive. He likes to torment it, and this he does by 
passing a string through its jaws to close its mouth, and 
then suspend it on a branch to wriggle out the remainder 
of its life as a kind of grim punishment for the injuries it 

South Africans are fatalists, and what is to be must be. 
There is no such thing as death from natural causes, except 
in extreme old age, when " the breath goes away". All 
others die from foul play, the work of wizards and witches ; 
the " calling" of the river, of seeing an incanti. These 
evils may be avoided for a time, but sooner or later fate 
overtakes the victim, and there can be no respite then. 
Such protection as can be had is got from charms, but 
there is always the danger of the evil worker being able 
to circumvent the doctor, and defeat the guardian spirit. 
This latter is generally the spirit of one's father, hence the 
Kaf^r who escapes from danger says, " The soul of my 
father saved me." This guardianship may be represented 
by living creatures or objects. The guardian spirit of a 
Kaffir chief is an ox, but any animal may be such, as a 
baboon, a bird, especially those deemed sacred, or even a 
.snake. This spirit is especially watchful when one is on 
a journey, and it is wonderful the feats of travelling that 
can be done by creatures in these circumstances. A 
baboon, which was the messenger of evil in this case, in 
Giakaland, travelled forty or fifty miles in an hour, and 
no one doubted the fact except the European magistrate 
who tried the culprit, and refused to release a rank im- 
postor and rogue, because the whole evil was done by 
someone else's familiar. 

A very wise man, a kind of African prophet, had once 
upon a time to make a long journey. He had to ford 
large and deep rivers, and traverse wide deserts. His 
friends urged him to carry a supply of food with him, and 
take a few personal attendants for his comfort and safety. 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 345 

This he refused to do, and left alone, saying : " I shall not 
die ; I hear him speaking." As he journeyed, a beautiful 
creature came and laid down food beside him every night. 
In his sleep it spoke to him. It said he was not to fear 
lions or serpents, and that all the people he met would be 
his friends ; that one day he would become a great chief, 
and rule a numerous and warlike people. This creature 
never left the sage till he returned home ; and when he 
told his story, all the people said he had seen the gods, 
and that he would now be their chief By his wisdom he 
taught them many new arts, and made laws " which are 
still observed by all black people". 

One tribe, at least, who are descended from this worthy, 
have a unique manner of salutation. They fill their mouths 
with water, and squirm it into the eyes and faces of those 
they v\dsh to honour, and then hug them in the most 
violent manner. Then their doctors and great men have 
an inordinate conceit of themselves, and this they carry 
into their relations with persons whom they very well 
know value their pretensions at their true worth. One 
Masellulie sent a messenger, during a thunderstorm, to 
the Rev. Mr. Edwards, to say he hoped the latter would 
not be offended, " because your cow has been killed by 
lightning which I have made". The lightning-bird is 
mythical ; but powerful magicians like Masellulie have 
had specimens of the genus as their familiar, and took 
aerial flights mounted on the thunder-car. Lightning 
being the bird's excrement, the medicine administered by 
the doctor purged it violently ; hence his power to manu- 
facture the subtle fluid. One old Pondo doctor of my 
own time knew, in his younger days, and may even have 
been a pupil of one who could traverse the limpid air, and 
scatter bolts at pleasure. 

These doctors have unlimited power over men's lives 
and property. Among the tribes farther inland, trial by 
ordeal is commonly practised by them. This may consist 
of a poison-bowl, when the dose is graduated according to 

346 Bantu Customs and Legends. 

the purpose it is intended to serve. If the victim is to be 
got rid of, he dies ; if not, then the dose is such as to give 
him a severe shaking and a big fright. Another method 
is plunging the hands into boiling fat. If the hands are 
scalded, the person is guilty ; if not, he is innocent. How 
it is they manage this trick — for trick it is — I do not know, 
unless it is that they are acquainted with certain of the 
effervescing substances by which they can cause molten 
fat to bubble as if boiling when at a comparatively low 
temperature. But an African doctor is not easily taken 
aback under any circumstances. When he orders a hunter 
to char the eye of his first elephant to cinders, and broil 
the point of his trunk as a dainty morsel, after which he 
will have full power over the life of any pachyderm, and 
he, on the following day, either loses his quarry or is 
tossed into the branches of an overhanging tree, the man 
of science calmly tells him that a particle of the eye was 
not reduced to ashes, or that the morsel cooked was not 
entirely eaten by him, and that he has only his own care- 
lessness to thank for his misadventure. 

Nor is he without a say regarding smaller game. If 
young men go hunting privately as distinguished from an 
organised hunt by the chief, and eat any portion of the 
product of the chase before laying it down at the feet of 
the elders who remain at home, they will either die or be 
turned into jackals or other beasts of prey. This is an 
effectual check on the dishonesty of the savage gamekeeper 
who might feel tempted to purloin a hare or pheasant- 

There is very frequently a kind of honourable rivalry 
between the doctor and the missionary. The former repre- 
sents ancient conservatism ; the latter, innovation, revolu- 
tion, and complete change of all established social customs. 
When the preacher, Bible in hand, arrives at a chief's 
village, the meeting-place is generally the shaded side of 
the cattle-kraal or fold on the greensward. Inside the 
fold a small fire is kindled while the people assemble. At 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 347 

this fire a few persons sit, during the service, apparently 
listening to what is going on. To them the novice pays 
no attention, thinking their interest is centred on the 
cooking of some article of food. The man of experience, 
who has studied customs and habits, knows that this small 
group, on the outskirts of the crowd, consists of the village- 
doctor and his attendants, and that they are engaged in 
burning charms " to drive away the spirit of the book", so 
that it may not enter into those who, out of courtesy, come 
to hear what the missionary has to say. 

Often has the missionary spoken of life, destiny, and 
immortality, with a fire smouldering near at hand. I seldom 
let my audience know that I understand the custom, or 
that I observed what was going on, but one fellow-country- 
man, a novice in the country, to whom I explained it, had 
his " spirit stirred within him" when he saw the people 
" given to idolatry", and burst out on them and all their 
practices. At the close I encouraged a discussion, and felt 
more convinced than ever I did before, that vituperation 
can under no circumstances serve instead of argument. 
They reasoned with him in this manner : " You live among 
our people; we circumcise our young men ; this stinks in 
your nose. We kill our cattle in sacrifice to our ancestors ; 
you say it is God we must w^orship. On what river had he 
his kraal ? Where are his people ? You say the spirit 
lives, but does not care for sacrifice. Does the father forget 
his own child ? Should not the children obey ? You have 
your customs; we do not like them. We have ours ; you do 
not like them. Why does the master scold, as we are both 
the same ? Is not the land enough to grow corn for all ?" 

There is a class of legends which I used to regard as 
purely mythical, or, rather, the invention of interested doc- 
tors, but which, in view of recent discoveries in connection 
with that uncanny science known as Hypnotism, I am 
inclined to think may have had a basis of truth, however 
much that may have been distorted. In fact, most popular 
legends have their origin, however remotely, in some 

34^ Baiiht C7tstoms and Legends. 

objective fact. Those referred to relate to the power said 
to be possessed by certain wizards on the one hand, and 
magicians or doctors on the other, of sending people to 
sleep, or into a trance, and then tormenting, and even 
mutilating them, without their experiencing any sensations 
of pain. One man I heard of, but who was dead a good 
many years, was said to possess this power, and persons 
were mentioned who had been the victims of his evil influ- 
ence and machinations. Into the truth of the specific 
statements I did not inquire at the time, but one story, a 
fair sample of those told, ran thus : A young woman 
against whom he had a grudge met him in the fields. He 
spoke to her, and after a little she fell asleep. When she 
awoke and returned home it was discovered that her ears 
were slit, and that she had been mutilated in various ways. 
She said she had no consciousness of pain, and did not 
know she had been injured till she saw blood on her 

Other and more improbable legends abound, which at- 
tribute to wizards not only the power of hypnotising their 
victims, but of conveying them from place to place with 
incredible swiftness, or sending them for weeks or even 
months into the mountains and forests to eat grass like 
oxen, as happened to the famous Babylonian monarch, and 
finally reducing them to be their own slaves or drudges, 
after the manner of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Whether 
there can be any truth in such legends culled from among 
a barbarous people, those learned in the " uncanny arts" 
must be left to determine. 

As in nature there is but a step from birds to butterflies, 
so in Africa there is but a step from magic to music, and 
the feats of Orpheus are nothing compared to the doings 
of bards and singers of a long forgotten past in the Dark 
Continent. Of extant musical instruments there are very 
few, and these are not of particularly complex construction. 
A dried elephant's ear makes a very serviceable drum ; 
two hard bits of stick or bone a suitable accompaniment 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 349 

to a song or a domestic dance. The great bull-hide drum 
of heathen revelry is very simple in its construction. A 
hide, w^hile wet, is firmly stretched between stakes securely 
fixed in the ground. This, as it dries in the sun, contracts 
violently, so that when ready for use it is pulled tighter 
than any drum of European manufacture. When beaten 
with suitable sticks its sound is both loud and penetrating ; 
simply ear-splitting. On festive occasions relays of women 
beat it, without intermission, from dusk to dawn, giving the 
dancers their time, and making the neighbouring forests 
resound again. This is the popular musical instrument at 
large gatherings. It is to the African what his beloved 
bagpipes is to the Scottish Celt. 

Next in popularity comes a variety of the so-called Jewish 
harp. On this skilful performers can play airs to be 
rivalled only by an Irishman with the penny-whistle at a 
great horse-fair in the Western Counties. I have, on still 
nights, sat for hours under the verandah listening to the 
playing of a Kaffir neighbour, who, in the still moonlight, 
used to sit outside his hut practising on his instrument and 
composing new airs, and often felt delighted with his per- 
formances. He, in turn, got some benefit from the mission. 
I have known him crouch outside the compound fence 
listening to the piano, and now and then try snatches of 
the music played on his own modest instrument. He 
picked up quite a number of Scotch airs and Highland 
pibrochs, and could reproduce them correctly. I am afraid, 
when he went on his travels, he palmed a few of them on 
his countrymen as his own composition. 

Another instrument, played chiefly by women, consists 
of a bow and bow-string. To the latter is attached a 
small calabash, perforated in a peculiar manner, and which 
acts as sounding-board. The string is twanged with the 
fingers of the right hand, while the left regulates the length 
of the vibration. The music is not of much account, but 
the time is perfect, and for their domestic amusements 
nothing could be better adapted. 

350 Bantu Customs' and Legends. 

There is an instrument common among the inland tribes, 
but of which I never saw a specimen in the South, con- 
structed somewhat on the principle of the piano. It 
consists of a strong wooden framework ; into this eight 
slips of wood are fixed, which, when struck in rapid suc- 
cession, sound a perfect octave. Skilful players can, with 
a small drumstick, perform quite a number of airs with 
surprising accuracy, and all in perfect time. But of all 
African musical instruments the most horribly maddening 
to European ears is the reed. This resembles nothing that 
I have ever heard except the "drones" of the bagpipes 
when an indifferent player is getting his instrument into 
tune. This is saying a good deal ; I might say more, but, 
being a Scotchman, dare not with impunity. 

I had many friends among the musicians, but never, un- 
fortunately, wrote down any of their legends. After enter- 
taining one with their strains they, one and all, would 
begin : " The master sees I am a child. Our people have 
forgotten music. Long ago every warrior could play skil- 
fully, and a man never went on a journey but he carried 
his instrument with him. The great players could bring 
the beasts of the forest out of the bush to listen, and even 
the birds would fly round and round them. Since the 
white man came and took our country, our hearts are 
heavy, men do not sing. When we have a meeting, if 
young men fight it is the tronk [gaol] ; the tronk is killing 
us. No. The master sees I am a child, and can touch this 
as our children throw the spear and the bunguza." 

" What was it the ancestors could do which you cannot 
do ? " 

" The master asks a foolish question to-day. He sits 
here and smokes when I play. If he heard my father he 
could not sit, he would dance." 

" Was your father a great musician ? " 

" Yes, to me ; but the old men when he was young would 
say he was a child. He could not play like them." 

" Do you know who made the first instrument like that? 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 3 5 1 

" No ; no one can tell. The spirits taught men long 
ago. They are angry with their children, and show them 
nothing now. It was not man who made this [playing a 
few bars] ; and it is because the spirits do not speak to 
singers that one cannot play The children are forgetting." 

So the conversation would meander on with much sad- 
ness and some truth ; for it is a fact that the old life is 
passing away, and the new has not yet taken hold of the 
popular imagination. Before we parted it was generally 
asserted that the spirits would one day speak, and restore 
the old order, when men would once more learn to sing as 
do the gods. 

Their lyrics are mostly in praise of ancestors, warriors, 
cattle, the seasons and crops, rain, sunshine, domestic virtue 
and valour. These the bards sing, adding a verse or alter- 
ing a phrase to suit the occasion. I have heard old and 
well-known verses so transformed as to be almost past 
recognition, and that impromptu. These ditties the bards 
sing and set to music ; and there is every reason to believe 
that their music has the authority of thousands of years. 
The dancing-steps of to-day are those depicted, as per- 
formed by slaves, in wall-paintings of ancient Egypt, and 
there seems no doubt that, then as now, they were danced 
to the same musical notes, played on instruments identical 
in form and melody to those of the present time. 

There is one species of dance popular among Bushmen, 
never indulged in by Bantu, to which some slight reference 
may be made. It is called " Porrah", or Devil-dance, and 
in the performance of which they work themselves into a 
state of perfect frenzy, continuing till they fall down in a 
kind of epileptic stupor. Of this they are relieved by being 
pricked with sharp thorns or large pins. The dance may 
be performed singly or by a number capering in concert, 
and is always accompanied by smoking a weed known as 
dara, which is really a species of hemp. When the pipe 
is ready they sit down in a circle and each takes a single 
pull. As the pipe goes round, first one and then another. 

352 Bantu Customs and Legends. 

and another, fall down into a kind of stupor which they 
describe as an ecstasy of joy. The weed is a deadly poison, 
and its continued use soon ends both dancing and joy. 
Bantu tribes smoke it, but not in connection with their 
dances. Few Europeans would care to make exhaustive 
experiments with it, and the results of tentative trials are 
not worth recording. 

When men gather round the hut-fire in the evening, the 
story-teller is always in requisition. He may relate his 
own exploits, his deeds of daring, his loves, his thefts, and 
feats of strength or endurance, and from these wander 
into a region of fable and legend to wile the weary 
hours away. With some, story-telling is reduced to one 
of the fine arts, I had almost said, exact sciences. 

I once had a camp-follower who was an adept at relating 
incidents, in which he himself was made to figure as one 
of the principal actors. I remember his relating a story 
which is largely legendar)'-, founded upon events which 
happened five generations before he was born, and winding 
up by asking, with an air of innocent veracity : " Did the 
master never hear I was one of Guluwe's companions ?" 

The story was this : Guluwe was a renowned hunter 
and warrior. He and two companions killed an eland 
while hunting in the Amatole forests, and as they proceeded 
to clean the beast, they found themselves surrounded by 
an army of Bushmen. Between the Bushmen and the 
Bantu there was mortal enmity : war to the knife. 
Guluwe promised his captors a large quantity of dara if 
they spared his life, and offered to send his companions 
for the coveted weed. To this they agreed. Guluwe, 
knowing their treachery, directed his companions not to 

The following day the Bushmen all slept, being over- 
come with their feasting on the flesh of the eland, while 
waiting for the messengers. The prisoner watched his 
opportunity, and slew them one by one till he came to 
their captain, whom he awoke, and said, " Guluwe's two 

Bantu Cii,stoms and Legends. 353 

of yesterday have come", hence the popular Kaffir phrase 
for one who never returns, " Hke Guluwe's two of yester- 

My friend told me the " story of the wonderful horns" 
as a local tale of East Griqualand. Mr. Theal had it as a 
Gaika legend among the people near Lovedale, and Dr. 
Hahn heard a version of it in Damaraland. The story 
runs as I heard it — in Mr. Theal's version the animal is a 
domestic ox — something to this effect : A very beautiful 
antelope came grazing near a village where a boy was 
herding cattle. It spoke to the bo}^ and asked him to 
mount on its back. The boy did so, and then the creature 
galloped swiftly over the plain, till the boy's home was far 
out of sight. 

Towards afternoon he felt hungry, and began to cry. 
He could not get off the creature's back, and concluded 
he was lost. He did his best to stop the animal, and at 
last struck one of its horns with a wand he had in his 
hand. Food came out of the horn, and he began to eat. 
It comforted him, so that he ceased to cry. At last he 
fell asleep, and when he awoke the sun was set. The 
antelope still galloped on, but now it was very fatigued 
and made hardly any progress. At last it lay down to 
die, but, before it expired, it spoke to the boy and asked 
him to take the horns and keep them all his life. This 
he did. When it was quite dark, he spoke to the horns, 
and a blanket came out of them, so he slept comfortably 
in the blanket. Whatever he fancied came out of the 

At last he came to a village where there was a girl he 
loved. She refused to marry him. He spoke to the horns, 
and they brought the girl to where he slept. He married 
her, and when he spoke to the horns, the ground was hoed 
for seed, and the pots were filled with beer. That boy 
became a great man, all by means of the wonderful 

Nearly allied to this is the story of the bird that made 


354 Bantu Customs and Legends. 

milk. It has often been told, and the following version 
differs in no essential from those that have already been 
published by Mr. Theal. It is as follows : A man and 
his wife went to hoe a garden ; they hoed all day. At 
night a bird came and said, " Garden, be mixed again." 
Next day the garden was all as if it had not been touched. 
They worked that day, and the result was the same. The 
third day the man watched all night in the garden, and 
caught the bird. He took it home and it made milk. He 
was very poor, and his children began to grow fat eating 
the milk. The neighbours wondered how they were so 
fat, when their father was so poor. One day, when he was 
away, other children asked them. They replied, " We eat 
the milk father's bird makes." 

" Let us see the bird," said they. The children showed 
them the bird in its cage. 

" Will he make milk for us ?" was the next question. 
" Father's bird make milk for our companions ?" 
" Yes," said the bird, " if you set me at the fire- 

They set it at the fireplace, and it made milk. 
" Father's bird make more milk for us?" 
" Yes, if you bring me to the door." 

They brought it to the door, and then it flew away, and 
was never more seen. The man and his wife were now as 
poor as ever, having lost the wonderful bird that made the 

The Damara legend of the origin of men and animals is 
told with as many variations among the Bantu as there are 
tribes. One version is as follows: When men and animals 
came out of a tree as from the womb of nature, all around 
was darkness black as midnight. A man kindled a fire, 
and then all the animals scattered and fled. This is why 
animals still fear fire, and why men kindle it to scare 
them away at night. The animals fear man only because 
he knows how to make fire, and but for this none of them 
would run away from him. 

Banhi Customs and Legends. 355 

To the same category as the above belongs the legend 
of the hoop-snake. This creature, when pursuing its prey 
downhill, puts its tail in its mouth and rolls away, like a 
child's hoop, with incredible velocity. Hardy story-tellers 
have seen the creature skipping along " faster than a horse 
could gallop". 

Snakes, however, do not have it all their own way, for 
there was once upon a time a doctor, who, when called to 
exercise his art at any place, could summon all the reptiles 
in the neighbourhood to appear before him, and then set 
them to fight one another for the purpose of mutual 
extermination. Less successful than St. Patrick, he has 
left a plentiful crop behind him for his successors to 
practise upon. 

There are legends connected with all the wild creatures 
found in the country. The crocodile " has no tongue", 
nothing but jaws and teeth; and this is how leviathan is 
condemned to go tongueless : When it and the iguana, 
a species of land lizard measuring three to four feet when 
full grown, and with a long forked tongue, were made, 
two tongues were made and placed at a distance from them. 
They were then told to run a race, and the first to arrive 
was to have both. The iguana won, and his larger and 
more savage rival had to be content " with a stump in its 

Baboons are the emblems of treachery ; " 'tis the foot of 
a baboon," being the universal proverb for unfair dealing. 
Still, baboons are supposed to protect females from lions 
and other beasts of prey ; and a legend is told of a woman 
who was lost in a forest ; night came, and lions roared. 
Then the baboons gathered round her and protected her, 
bringing her to a place of safety where they provided an 
ample supply of milk and corn for her use. She lived 
a long time with her strange companions, her friends 
supposing her dead. She was at last restored to her 
home, but, having learned the language of the baboons, 
she went often to talk to them in the forest at night. At 

356 Bantu Customs and Legends. 

last she died, and the baboons barked and howled, mourn- 
ing for her for many days. 

To see an " incanti" is certain death ; so, too, to see 
a " hili". At the same time stories inconsistent with such 
general truths are common, especially regarding the latter, 
who is very malevolent, but withal an amorous swain. 
One at least fell among thieves in the prosecution of his 
loves. Hence the common proverb, " You will feel what 
Hili experienced." On one occasion he carried on an 
intrigue with a woman he had caused to fall in love with 
him. Her husband suspected that she was visited by 
a hili, but for a long time he could find out nothing to 
confirm his suspicions. At last he pretended to go on 
a long journey, but returned in the middle of the night 
with a number of friends. They quietly fastened all the 
dogs at the door of the hut, and after that he went in and 
kindled a light. As he anticipated, a hili was there. The 
neighbours beat him, the dogs bit him, until at last he was 
not able to move away from the house. They then tied 
him on the woman's back and sent her away to wander with 
ghosts and river-spirits for ever. Hili often milks the cows 
when no one is watching them, and plays other tricks, in 
which he never can be detected. 

While we were living at Duff, a man was found dead 
one morning close by the river's bank, not far from the 
mission. It was clearly a case of suicide by poisoning, 
but our native neighbours regarded it as a case of having 
seen an incanti, and no one would approach the spot for 
months. The pools were bewitched, haunted, bedevilled. 
This circumstance led to my being told several legends 
regarding our friend the incanti. I preserved none of 
them in a complete form, but the following notes will 
indicate their nature. An incanti once lived in a river 
near a chief's house. One day his son saw it, and he 
died. He sent the magicians and an army to the river. 
They pelted it with stones ; the magicians cursed it ; the 
women even cursed it. Next day the chief's bravest 

BantiL C2tstoms and Legends. 357 

general saw it, and he died. The chief called his magicians 
and said : " How is this ? Did I not send you to the 
river to drive away the incanti ?" They said, " Yes." He 
then told them that the general was dead, and shut them 
up in a house till they died. No one would go to the river. 
Then a doctor came from a far people on a visit, and, 
when he heard it, he said, " Show me where the incanti is." 
On being shown, he made medicine, and put it in the 
river where the incanti dwelt. Then there was a great 
noise and darkness, and no one ever saw that incanti 
again. The doctor married the chief's daughter and was 
a great man among that people. Several other legends 
illustrating the cunning of the incanti were told at the 
same time, but the above is a fair specimen of village talk 
after such an event as a sudden death or suicide. 

To show how rapidly historical events become legendary 
among Africans, one has but to turn to the events of the 
early wars of the present century, and in regard to which 
much authentic history has been written. 

I had often heard the phrase, " Like the coming of 
Nkele", before I understood its meaning, applied to any- 
thing long delayed, or which the speaker believed never 
would happen. Now Nkele — the left-handed — or more 
properly Makana, was perhaps the most remarkable man 
that Kaffirland has produced. In a land where the ruling 
caste is regarded as a sacred order, he rose from the ranks by 
sheer force of character and sterling merit to be the leader of 
one of the most powerful combinations that ever opposed 
the English in their progress eastwards from the Cape. 
During the early years of the second decade of the century 
he was the foremost man in Africa. He led his men against 
English troops supported by artillery, and only when the 
flower of his force were mown down did he retire from the 
conflict. When all was lost he voluntarily surrendered him- 
self to the English commander, as he could thereby secure 
more favourable terms for his countrymen. He was tried, 
and sent as a prisoner of State to Robben Island in Table 

358 BantiL Customs and Legends. 

Bay. In attempting to escape the boat was swamped and 
Makana was drowned. Meantime his countrymen regarded 
him as invulnerable and immortal, and refused to believe 
that he was dead. All through the wars between 1835 and 
185 1 they looked for his reappearance to lead them to 
victory, and to this day many of them will solemnly assert 
that Makana is not dead. The injunctions he laid upon 
his countrymen nearly a century ago are obeyed as if they 
were the words of a god. Before his time none except 
chiefs and their immediate relatives were buried. Makana 
ordered his troops to bury their fallen comrades as having 
perished in their country's cause. This led to sepulture 
becoming common. Now it is universal. 

To thousands he is still the living man, or demi-god, and 
they relate legends of persons who saw him, and on whom 
he laid fresh injunctions not ten years ago. His personal 
effects and ornaments are, or at least were a short while 
ago, preserved waiting his coming, and men born decades 
after his death were ready, at an hour's notice, to throw cff 
their allegiance to native chief or English Government, and 
follow his standard to victory or to death. From one point 
of view such devotion is very beautiful ; from another it 
illustrates the vast distance there is between Western civili- 
sation and African barbarism. 

Such are a few of the legends current among a people 
whose ways were to me very familiar, and who often in the 
most unexpected manner remind one of the friends of his 
youth in the legends of ancient Greece and Rome. 
Whether any of them took their rise from a common 
origin it is impossible even to guess, but if not, then it is 
clear that man's habits of thought do not differ so largely 
as at firstfsight appears, and that from certain primitive 
ideas, common to the human race, grew the ancient civili- 
sations of East and West, as well as the more modern 
developments of our own times. 

That I am not able to give the legends in more minute 
detail is owing to the reason already stated. No one can 

Bantu Customs and Legends. 359 

be more sensible than I am of the inadequate conception 
this paper gives of a subject of engrossing interest. Should 
I ever have to return once more to Africa, it will be some- 
thing more than the mere conventional pleasure to collect 
and arrange legends and sayings that are fast passing into 
an oblivion from which they can never be recovered again 
to the world. 

James Macdonald. 


DEPUIS dix ans I'etude de rancien-frangais est entree 
dans une ere nouvelle ; elle s'est elargie et comme 
rencuvelee au contact d'une autre discipline qui, vieille 
comme le monde, puisqu'elle a passionne les Anciens, a 
trouve son propre rajeunissement dans la curiosite de 
quelques erudits allemands et d'un ou deux philosophes 
anglais. Cette discipline, s'il n'y a quelque ironie a lui 
donner un nom qu'elle est loin de meriter toujours, est 
la science du folk-lore, et c'est pourquoi, dans une revue 
consacree a cette science, nous pouvons parler d'ancien- 
fran^ais, sans trop nous aventurer sur les confins du hors- 

Les Allemands ont appele Realien les recherches con- 
sacrees aux usages, aux institutions, aux croyances et, en 
general, a toutes les formes de la vie organisee, telles que 
nous les observons dans les textes litteraires. L'epopee, le 
roman breton et le roman d'aventure, la lyrique, les fabliaux 
ont done leurs Realien, au Moyen Age, comme Homere et 
Hesiode les ont en Grece, et comme Virgile, Horace et 
Lucain les possedent chez les Romains. II va de soi que la 
philologie germanique n'a rien a envier, a cet egard, a sa 
sceur romane ; on ne compte plus les dissertations, dont les 
auteurs etudient Tun ou I'autre point de la Ktilturgeschidite 
dans les Nibelimgen} dans Gudrun et chez les auteurs cour- 
tois du XIII* siecle. Plus heureuse que nous, I'Allemagne 
peut meme s'enorgueillir des travaux de M. Karl Weinhold,' 

1 Un travail recent de M. Lichtenberger {Le pohne et la legende des 
Nibelimgen, Paris, 1891) fait une part serieuse k i'etude des Realien. 
^ Altnordisches Lcbeii — Die deutsche Frauen im Mittelaltcr. 

hnportance du Folk-lore. 361 

de M. Alwin Schultz^ et dc bien d'autres, c'est-a-dire 
d'esquisses plus generales dont les contours larges et 
humains trahissent un esprit philosophique, sans prejudice 
pour I'exactitude du detail et la variete de I'information. 
M. Schultz n'est meme pas un etranger pour nous, car il a 
egalement mis a contribution nos vieux textes et des cita- 
tions de Rolland, d' Ogier om encore des romanciers en vogue 
du Xir et du XIIP siecles coudoient dans ses notes les pas- 
sages de poetes tudesques du meme temps. Ce procede 
n'est pas irreprochable et c'est a peine s'il faut en donner la 
raison. Sans doutes les ceuvres courtoises de Wolfram 
d'Eschenbach et de Hartmann von der Aue sont nees de 
I'imitation de nos ecrivains, et il n'est pas jusqu'au Thiois 
Veldeke qui n'ait les plus serieuses obligations a ces derniers. 
Mais qui ne devine qu'en transportant chez cux nos poemes, 
qu'en transposant et le rythme et la langue et toutes les 
petites habiletes d'une technique, d'autant plus compliquee 
qu'elle etait embryonnaire, les trouveurs allemands etaient 
condamnes a bien des alterations dictees par le genie de leur 
race et leur propre genie ; ajoutez a cela le sans-gene des 
modifications les plus profondes, qui n'a d'egal en ce temps 
que le sans-gene du plagiat, des mceurs non essentiellement 
differentes, mais modelees toutefois par des conditions de 
vie individuelle, de rapports sociaux, de climat et de nature 
plutot dissemblables. Des contradictions ne sont done pas 
rares entre les modeles frangais et leurs imitateurs germains, 
et ces contradictions sont parfois sensibles dans les etudes 
de M. Schultz, au point qu'il en retient ses conclusions et 
nous laisse avec lui dans de facheuses et inutiles incertitudes. 
Mieux valait, semblera-t-il toujours, ne considerer qu'un des 
aspects de ce vaste domaine et, dans les seuls cas ou, le trait 
^tant ferme et definitivement trace, I'image qu'on nous 
presentait ne risquait pas d'etre alteree, s'autoriser tout 
au plus d'un parallele qui venait confirmer I'impression 

Une autre question est soulevee par Iec6te-a-c6te 011 nous 

^ Hofisches Leden sicr Zeit der Minnesinger, 2 voll., 2' ed. 1S91. 

362 Importance du Folk-lore pour 

decouvrons dans ses references les textes historiques et les 
ceuvres d'imagination. Encore une fois il fallait opter, k 
notre sens, entre des documents d'un caractere si dissem- 
blable. L'essence meme de la poesie est de depasser la 
mesure du reel, de substituer sa vision, grossie par une sorte 
d'ivresse perpetuelle, a I'exacte notation des choses,^ telle 
qu'on I'exigerait d'un temoin impersonnel et, pour ainsi dire^ 
indifferent. En fait, il n'en est pas necessairement ainsi ; ce 
temoin, s'il est Villehardouin ou Joinville, ne garde pas 
toujours la mesure voulue dans ses peintures et ses affirma- 
tions ; de meme s'il est proche des evenements qu'il a chantes, 
comme c'est le cas pour le trouveur a qui nous devons, par 
exemple, Raoiil de Cambrai, I'artiste tend a s'inspirer plus 
directement des spectacles qu'il a eus sous les yeux ou que 
lui ont retrace I'un ou I'autre des acteurs encore en vie. La 
distance n'en reste pas moins considerable entre les devoirs 
du chroniqueur, meme du plus imaginatif, et les licences du 
poete, meme du plus respectueux des faits, et nous ne 
croyons pas qu'on puisse combiner leurs recits. 

II etait done inevitable que des recherches nouvelles 
fussent instituees, n'ayant qu'un seul et meme objectif, et il 
est plaisant de constater que la litterature a groupe sur ce 
terrain des pionniers plus nombreux et d'une abnegation 
plus perseverante que I'histoire proprement dite. On peut 
le proclamer sans injustice, les etudes historiques n'ont pas 
encore trouve, si ce n'est chez quelques hommes dont les 
efforts se sont consumes dans I'isolement, leur veritable 
orientation dans le sens social. Elles ont debute par des 
biographies de rois et des recits de batailles ; puis elles 
ont ete dirigees par des preoccupations philosophiques, 

^ En veut-on un exemple precis ? Nous I'empruntons a Tune des 
dissertations dont on trouvera bientot le detail, celle de M. Sternberg. 
Celui-ci constate (p. 44) les exagerations conscientes auxquelles se 
livrent les auteurs de chansons dans la description des armes offensives, 
que portent les guerriers sarrazins : leur but ctait, dit-il, de faire 
d'autant mieux ressortir la valeur triomphante des Chretiens. M. 
Schirling reprend (p. 11) pour son compte cette observation dans 
I'etude qu'il a consacree aux armes defensives dans I'epopde. 

les Etudes cVancien Franfais. 363 

juridiques ou, enfin, economiques. La vie populaire, dans 
son ampleur et son infinie complexite, est presque toujours 
restee etrangere a I'ideal de I'historien. Elle comporte 
I'etude des idees, des sentiments et des croyances plus 
encore que celle des moeurs et des usages ; mais ni I'une ni 
I'autre de ces etudes n'a ete poursuivie jusqu'ici avec le zele 
discipline qu'on apportait a d'autres taches. Seuls peut- 
etre les documents litteraires ont, quoiqu'ils soient souvent 
les plus pauvres en temoignages de I'espece, eveille une 
activite dont nous considererons bientot quelques resultats. 
Encore est-il a regretter que cette activite se soit manifestee 
sous des formes plus sinceres que raisonnees. On n'a pas 
toujours associe ce qui devait I'etre ; on a souvent combine 
les elements les plus disparates. Dans ces deux beaux 
volumes de M. Schultz sur la vie courtoise au temps des 
Minnesinger, n'est-il pas question des moeurs et des diver- 
tissements rustiques? N'y decouvre-t-on pas aussi (i, 211) 
quelques pages sur "I'ideal de beaute et de laideur", qui 
ne se rattachent guere aux precedentes ; enfin n'est-il pas 
tout un chapitre sur I'homme " moral" de cette epoque, qui 
est de trop si I'ouvrage n'a d'autre but que de decrire la 
civilisation materielle, qui est vraiment bien peu de chose 
si M. Schultz a voulu retracer I'histoire des idees et des 
sentiments ? Cette histoire est a peine ebauchee jusqu'ici 
pour le M. Age, et il serait temeraire de dire qu'elle soit 
definitivement ecrite pour les derniers siecles. Mais ce que 
nous jugeons inadmissible, c'est qu'on la separe de I'etude 
attentive et detaillee des procedes litteraires etde I'esthetique 
de nos vieux auteurs. Leur rhctorique est la principale 
source a consulter ici ; et il faut com.prendre sous cette 
rubrique d'^cole la description, I'allusion, les sentences 
et proverbes, les dialogues, etc. Que de revelations nous 
promettent encore les axiomes et les aphorismes formules 
par les trouveurs des xir et Xlll= siecles ! Les allusions 
nous eclairent sur leur propre histoire, sur leur gout et sur 
leur erudition relative ; et quant aux descriptions, soit 
morales, soit physiques, nous essayerons d'indiquer plus 

364 Importance du Folk-lore pour 

tard le precieux appoint qu'ellcs constituent pour I'histoire 
des genres dans I'ancienne litterature. Deja plusieurs 
maitres allemands ont compris I'importance des etudes 
stylistiques (qu'il faut bien se garder de confondre avec les 
appreciations sur le style, cet exercice perilleux ou le gout 
individuel devient aisement de I'arbitraire, et ou les 
Frangais a peu pres seuls ont excelle depuis La Harpe). 
De la les dissertations de MM. Grosse, Borner, Heinrich, 
etc., auxquelles nous nous plaisons a ajouter un serieux 
essai de M. Binet, edite a Paris. Mais faisons abstraction 
de ces recherches sur la technique de nos anciens poetes, 
pour reparler de celles que la vie materielle, refletee dans 
leurs ouvrages, a suscitees jusqu'ici. Ce n'est qu'oeuvre 
juste de mentionner tout de suite M. Stengel, professeur 
a Marbourg, et de nous occuper principalement des travaux 
dus a son initiative. Certes M. Stengel n'est pas le 
promoteur^ de I'etude des Realien, mais il est le premier 
qui ait tente de discipliner toute une petite armee de 
travailleurs, qui I'ait guidee dans ce champ d'explora- 
tion, assignant a chacun une bande etroite a explorer, 
n'autorisant incursion ni sur d'autres points de la meme 
litterature, ni dans le domaine correspondant d'une autre 
litterature, interdisant de meme toute reference aux 
historiens et aux textes d'archives, et tolerant tout au plus 
— en quoi il lui 6tait malaise de ne pas avoir tort — le cote- 
a-c6te de citations empruntees a des ouvrages d'un meme 
genre, mais distants de deux et meme de trois siecles." 

^ Sans vouloir etendre cette note aux etudes sur I'antiquite, il est 
permis de renvoyer aux bibliographies que donnent Bernhardy et 
Teufifel. Deja les auteurs de VHisioire litteraire de la France 
avaient, des le debut de ce siecle, dmailld leurs analyses de details 
relevant de la science du folk-lore, et 5'a toujours ete I'heureuse tactique 
de leurs continuateurs, notamment de Paulin Paris. E. Du Meril, 
prdcurseur des tentatives les plus modernes sur tant de domaines, a 
etudie les Realiefi des Loherains dans sa preface de la Mart Garin. 

2 Inutile d'insister sur les desavantages de cette promiscuite dans 
des questions d'archeologie ou meme de "sentiment". Les nuances 
s'effacent et tout souci de revolution des ide'es, des usages et du goiit 

Ics Etudes d' ancien Frangais. 365 

II est resulte de la une vingtaine de dissertations^ de 
valeur forcement inegale, mais dont la methode, inspiree 

disparatt avec elles. II peut en etre autrement des traditions, et parti- 
culierement de la tradition litteraire, si tenace, et si la meme a un 
siecle ou deux pr^s. La methode historique aurait done mieux servi 
M. Stengel, a notre sens, que celle qui repose sur une division arbitraire 
comme Test celle des genres. 

^ Voici la liste de ces dissertations que nous groupons de fagon 
systematique, au lieu de suivre I'ordre dans lequel elles ont ete publiees 
sous le titre coUectif de Ausgabe und Abhaftdlungen aits dem Gebiet 
der romanischen Philologie (les numdros sont ceux de la collection) : — 
La Vie : Paul Zeller, Die tagliche7i Lebensgewohnheiten ini altfranz. 
Knrls-Epos (XLii) ; Theodor Krabbes, Die Fran im altfrz. Karls- 
Epos (xviii) ; Max Winter, Kleidimg tend Puts der Fran tiach den 
altfrz. Chajtsons de geste (xLv). Sentiments et Croyances : 
Richard Mentz, Die Triiume in de?i altfrz. Karls- ntid Artns-Epen 
(LXXiil) ; Johannes Altona, Gebete nnd Anrufungen in den altfrz. 
Chansons de geste (ix) ; Gottfried Kentel, Die Ayirnfteng der fwheren 
Wesen in deft altfrz. Ritterromatien (XLVi). Guerre et Chasse : 
Aron Sternberg, Die Angriffszuajfen ini altfrz. Epos (XLViii) ; Victor 
Schirling, Die Verteidignngswaffen im altfrz. Epos (lxix) ; 
Volkmar Bach, Die Angriffsivaffen in den altfrz. Artus- nnd Aben- 
tenerromanen (lxx) ; Adolf Kitze, Das Ross in den altfranz. Artns- 
und Abenteuerromaiien (lxxv). Lecheval dans I'epopee a dte etudie, 
avec les autres animaux, par Friedrich Bangert, Die Tiere ini altfrz. 
Epos (xxxiv) ; Ernst Bormann, Die fagd in den altfrz. Artus- imd 
Abenteuerromanefi (lxviii). Institutions : August Euler, Das 
Konigtnm im altfrz. Karls-Epos. A cette derniere categorie pour- 
raient se rattacher une dissertation toute recente, que je n'ai pas 
encore eue sous les yeux : Fr. Meyer, Die Stdnde dargestellt ?tach deti 
altfrz. Artus- und Abenteuerromatjen (lxxxix), et deux dissertations 
de Halle sur les usages relatifs au bapteme et aux ambassades dans 
I'anc. poesie frang. On voit que des sub-divisions importantes des 
Realien ont dte systematiquement ecartees par M. Stengel ; tout ce 
qui concerne le style (exception faite d'une these de M. Heinrich 
sur le Roitian de la Rose et de deux travaux sur les proverbes et 
sentences dans I'epopde et le roman, N""- xxill et XLix), aussi bien 
que I'esthetique des chansons et des romans, ne semble avoir dte 
I'objet d'aucune etude. En revanche MM. Grosse, R. Borner et 
d'autres ont consacre k Chretien, h. Raoul de Houdenc, au Tornoie- 
ment d'Antechrist^ etc., d'utiles monographies ; en France, signalons 
la recente brochure de M. Binet sur le style des pontes lyriques au 
XII* et au xiii^ si^cles (Paris, Bouillon, 1891). Deux dtudes de M. 


66 Importance dit Folk-lo7'e pour 

par le maitre, ne varie point. Que faut-il penser de ces 
dissertations ? Sont-elles de veritables contributions a 
I'histoire des XII^ et Xlll^ siecles ? Non, certes. Mais elles 
rendront de serieux services au futur historien de notre 
ancienne litterature ; elles sont, en effet, executees sur un 
plan commode et dans une forme qui facilite le depart, si 
malaise en lui-meme, entre les elements poetiques et les 
donnees vraies. Chaque detail, accompagne d'un ou des 
passages justificatifs, est trie, mis a part, et il a ou sa rubri- 
que particuliere, ou sa place distincte dans I'expose. Un 
onomasticon, qui nous a paru complet, permet de retrouver 
sans effort ce detail dans la brochure ou Ton doit presumer 
qu'il est inscrit. 

Reste le cote littcraire, qu'il serait injustifiable de perdre 
de vue dans une entreprise comme celle-ci. II faut bien 
reconnaitre qu'il est fort neglige par les Aleves de M. 
Stengel. Faut-il en rendre responsable ce dernier, plutot 
erudit qu'ecrivain et voue de preference a des taches 
bibliographiques 1^ Ou bien les insuffisances du gout 

Settegast sur le sentiment de I'honneur {Zcitschrift fiir roina/t. 
Philologie, ix, et Leipzig, 1887) et une these de Robert Paul Kettner 
(^Der Ehrbcgriff in d. altfrz. Arttisromanen, Leipzig, Richter, 
1890) inaugurent une enquete dont il n'est pas necessaire de faire 
ressortir I'intdret. L'esthetique du Moyen Age a dej^ attire I'atten- 
tion d'un certain nombre d'drudits. Signalons la dissertation de 
Jean Loubier, Das Ideal der mdnnlichen Schonheit bei d. altfrz. 
Dichtern des xn U7td x.ui Jakrhunderis, qui donne la bibliographic du 
sujet et une these, de Marbourg encore, qui est de date tout-k-fait 
recente : O. Voigt, Das Ideal der Schonheit iind Hdsslichkeit in den 
altfrz. Chansons de Geste (Ausg. Abh.). 

^ L'observation ne s'applique pas a un seul maitre, mais k la 
plupart des romanistes allemands. Les etranges preferences estheti- 
ques, dont M. Forster a temoigne recemment dans sa polemique avec 
M. G. Paris sur les origines du roman breton, n'ont done rien qui doive 
nous surprendre. Juge-t-il ce Gautier d'Arras qu'il est en train d'editer 
dailleurs con amore, le professeur de Bonn trouvera des expressions 
inattendues pour caractdriser son mepris ; il parlera de sa " unge- 
schichte, sprachlich saloppe(!) und iiberaus seichte erzahlungsweise", 
et si I'on se risque a trouver quelque mdrite a Raoul de Houdenc, il 
s'emporte et le proclame I'imitateur lourd et ennuyeux de Chretien 
{Erec En., p. xii, note 2). Apres cela il faut tirer I'echelle. 

les Etudes cCancien Frangais. 367 

individuel de chaque etudiant ne sont-elles pas ici la 
raison dominante? Quoi qu'il en soit, la lecture de ces 
dissertations, deja fatigante par la nature meme du sujet 
traits, devient tout-a-fait penible dans la forme qu'elles 
ont regue de leurs auteurs. Ce sont moins des etudes 
personnelles que des catalogues raisonnes, et Ton y 
explore vingt pages sans y decouvrir parfois une simple 
observation, attestant quelque finesse ou un jugement 

Nous nous bornerons a un ou deux exemples. M. Mentz, 
qui a etudie les songes avec un grand luxe de details 
et qui egare son sujet dans des subdivisions indefinies, a 
parfois d'etranges naivetes. A-t-il observe que les femmes 
ont des reves frequents dans I'epopee? II se hatera d'en 
conclure que cela tient au haut rang qu'elles occupent dans 
la societe du temps (p. 21) ; il ne s'est meme pas demande, 
au cours de recherches longues et intr^pides, si la nature 
plus impressionnable des femmes n'expliquait pas a suf- 
fisance cette particularite trop reelle dans la vie et, par 
ricochet, dans la litterature. Si Athalie fait un songe 
chez Racine, ce n'est apparemment pas parcequ'elle est 
reine et fille de roi ! M. Winter n'est pas plus heureux 
dans mainte interpretation des textes qu'il a conscien- 
cieusement rassembles. Apres avoir constate que les 
femmes restaient ordinairement^ pieds nus le matin chez 
elles, il remarque que dans Girard de Roiissillon la reine se 
rend a I'eglise non chaussee un jour de grande solennit^ ; 
mais il fallait donner la raison d'humilite chretienne, pour 
laquelle elle le fait, et ne pas mettre ensemble des 
temoignages aussi disparates. P. 39 de la meme dissertation 
nous nous heurtons a cette profonde reflexion, apostillee 
d'un texte: "Lorsqu'on s'etait echauffe, on s'cnveloppait 
d'un manteau pour ne pas prendre froid." Mieux vaut un 
simple catalogue qu'une glose aussi puerile ! 

Ce qui est plus grave encore, les erreurs de fait ne sont 
pas plus rares dans cette collection que les erreurs de gout. 

^ II cite deux passages seulement (p. 13). 


68 Importance dii Folk-lore pour 

Nous n'insistons pas sur les omissions, qui sont en general 
peu nombreuses et tiennent plutot a letroitesse du plan 
des auteurs qu'a un manque d'attention et de scrupule. 
Mais que de petites inexactitudes dans la lecture et I'inter- 
pretation des textes ! On voit avec stupeur M. Sternberg, 
exhumant un passage oublie de Roquefort, identifier le 
frangais moderne chavibres (detonations) avec la vieille forme 
tambre (ou cambre?) qui signifie un "trait" dans Gonnojtd. 
Eh quoi ! I'auteur inconnu de ce poeme respectable aurait-il 
invente la poudre et meme les balles explosibles ? D'un 
autre cote il est regrettable que M. Mentz, au travail de qui 
nous nous plaisons a revenir, n'ait pu connaitre les recentes 
etudes publiees par la Romania et les Roma^iische ForscJi- 
tmgen sur les visions du Moyen Age ; ajoutons qu'il separe 
ces dernieres des songes avec un soin judicieux. II aurait 
du utiliser toutefois I'interessant conte de Guillauuie 
d'Engletcrrc^ et tirer egalement parti des versions de Bazin, 
dont la plus curieuse peut-etre est le Carl attd Elegast 

Les travaux relatifs aux animaux et particulierement 
au cheval, ainsi que les trois etudes deja indiquees sur 
les armes offensives et defensives, appartiennent moins 
nettement au groupe dont nous voudrions faire ressortir ici 
I'interet folk-lorique. Quelques proverbes, comparaisons et 
locutions dans lesquelles apparaissent le cheval, le chien, 
le lion, etc., ne sont qu'un maigre butin pour la paremio- 
logie. En revanche I'histoire litteraire devra mettre a 
contribution ces brochures, et elle pourra en tirer un 
serieux profit. Elle ne devra pas negliger non plus les 
recherches sur I'etat social et sur la vie publique et privee. 

1 Notamment pp. 9 et 24, note i. 

' Nous reviendrons dans un prochain article sur la question des 
songes proprement dits dans I'ancienne litterature frangaise ; il est en 
effet tout un cote du sujet rested en friche, celui des presages, tires des 
reves qu'on faisait. Un petit traite d'interpretation des songes et sa 
version romane, inedite jusqu'ici, seront donnes en appendice de ce 
deuxi^me article. 

les Etudes cT ancien Fra?ifais. 369 

Ces recherches, basees sur les seules ceuvres d'imagination, 
seront toujours suspectes aux erudits, et a juste titre. Ellas 
contiennent pourtant des resultats qui ont leur prix. L'his- 
toire vraie n'est pas seule a nous offrir un processtis logique 
et jamais interrompu ; I'histoire poetique a le sien, dont la 
logique est parfois plus ostensible encore. Les conceptions 
des hommes peuvent-elles se derober aux lois d'heredite et 
d'ambiance ? Pas plus que leurs ouvrages, sans doute. 
Eh bien, cette suite logique dans les idees, ce progres 
constant dans leur expression, cet affinement de la sensi- 
bilite litteraire qu'on ne peut meconnaitre, lorsqu'on pro- 
cede de I'epopee aux imitations de I'antiquit^, et de celles-ci 
au roman de Thomas et de Chretien, I'etude des Realien 
nous en revele I'origine, les lois, la gradation plus ou moins 
lente ; elle degrossit ainsi les materiaux d'une histoire 
definitive — si tant est qu'oeuvre humaine le soit — de notre 
ancienne litterature fran(jaise. Et comment, sans elle, sup- 
plier a I'absence quasi-complete de renseignements sur la 
vie de nos premiers ecrivains, sur le milieu intellectuel ou 
ils se sont epanouis et sur la nature du public auquel ils 
devaient plaire ? 

Apres M. Krabbes, qui a etudie la femme dans I'epopee 
frangaise, M. Winter s'est preoccupe de son luxe et de sa 
coquetterie. II I'a fait sans rien de piquant et avec la meme 
sagesse d'appreciation, le meme mepris des nuances, que son 
devancier. Pourtant que de points de vue changeants 
et que de points de vue eternellement fixes il pouvait 
nous offrir ici, apres les avoir contempl^s lui-meme ! 
Retenons des travaux de MM. Krabbes et Winter un 
trait essentiel de differenciation entre I'epopee et le roman. 
L'heroine des chansons est ignorante ou sa science est plus 
faite pour nous derouter que pour nous plaire : elle connait 
les simples, I'astronomie, les formules et recettes magiques. 
La femme de Chretien est plus cultivee ; elle sait lire,^ et si 
elle s'occupe encore de 

1 V. Yvain, 5364-6; P. Paris, RomaJtcero franqais, p. 46. Pour le 
xnie siecle les exemples ne se comptent plus. 


370 Importance du Folk-lore pour 

". . . . filer, cosdre et tailler,"^ 

elle a des recherches d'elegance, une esthetique embryon- 
naire et un art de plaire et de donoier^- qui sont inconnus 
a sa soeur ainee. II faudrait ajouter qu'elle n'a point perdu 
le gout des sciences occultes, mais qu'elle ne daigne plus 
en faire I'occupation de ses longues heures de nonchalant 
loisir. Deja Didon, dans Etteas, a recours a I'experience 
d'une sorciere et c'est la " maistre"^ de Fenice, qui lui 
prepare le philtre destine a la laisser pure entre les bras de 
son mari. 

Rest une derniere etude qui n'a pas, a mon su, ete abordee 

^ Eneas, v. 7085, passage que M. Krabbes aurait, s'il I'avait connu, 
pu rapprocher de ceux qu'il emprunte fort judicieusement k Renaiid de 
Montauban et a Raoul de Cambrai. 

2 Un de mes eleves prepare une dissertation sur la femme dans la 
societe des xii^-xnP si^cles. De mes lectures il m'est reste un doute 
serieux sur la delicatesse de cette petite elite qui semble alors dominer, 
au haut de I'echelle sociale, la grossi^rete ordinaire des moeurs et 
des propos. Rappelons le langage intraduisible dans lequel I'un des 
auteurs de Tristan fait se disculper Yseut devant les rois Marc et 
Artus et les deux cours reunies, le reproche immonde fait k Eneas, 
reproduit par une femme, Marie de France, dans Lanval, 279 ss., et 
mis par elle dans la bouche d'une autre reine. Si nous interrogeons 
la geste elle nous menage d'autres surprises. Le tastonnagc, la 
sensualite toujours en eveil des jeunes filles payennes et chretiennes, 
I'impudeur qui preside k des ceremonies sacrees, comme celle du 
bapteme d'une sarrazine, tout cela nous revele un etat de civilisation 
bien rudimentaire encore et voisin de la nature. V. aussi d'interessantes 
observations de M. G. Paris {Romania^ xix, 332) k propos des Realieit 
d'un texte de la fin du xil« sifecle. 

^ Cliges, 3002, ss. Le type de la "maistre" a ete sans doute em- 
prunte au roman de Troiej il se perpetue k travers les siecles apr^s 
avoir fourni quelques types k Chretien (Lunate, Tessala) et Jean de 
Meun (LaVieille dans Rom. Rose) le leguera k Regnier {Macette). II 
est encore vrai aujourd'hui, la sorciire d'Eneas n'est autre que ces 
vieilles, bigotes et magiciennes, qui jettent des sorts aux enfants et aux 
animaux et que nos paysans wallons, comme nos faubouriens de Li^ge 
et d'ailleurs, ont fletri d'un nom significatif, celui de makral (maque- 
relle). L'on salt le role qu'elles jouent dans les superstitions et les 
contes populaires. 

les Etudes cTancien Fra^ifais. 371 

jusqu'ici. La description de rhomme/ celle de ranimal, ne 
sont pas les seules que nous offre I'ancienne litterature. La 
peinture des lieux qui sont le theatre de ses recits n'a pas 
ete negligee totalement par nos vieux poetes. II y a la une 
tache que nous recommandons avec chaleura I'etudiant, qui 
aura une ambition plus haute que celle de mettre sur pied 
un simple catalogue methodique Les descriptions emprun- 
tees a la nature sont d'une singuliere pauvret6 dans I'epopee ; 
sans etre abondantes ni varices, elles sont, au contraire, chez 
Chretien I'echo d'un sentiment deja personnel. Le passage 
celebre de Perceval ou celui-ci s'hypnotise dans la contem- 
plation du contraste de la neige avec I'aile noire du corbeau 
et les gouttelettes de sang rose, n'appartient peut-etre pas 
tout entier a Chretien ; du moins celui-ci a-t-il eu I'art de 
I'encadrer parfaitement et de lui faire produire tout son effet. 
C'est encore Chretien qui, parlant de la nuit tombante, dira 
qu'elle " a revetu sa chape et sa couverture".- Un peu plus 
tard.le charmant trouveur a qui nous devons le lai AoX Ombre ^ 
aura ce bonheur d'expression : 

" Li vermeus 11 monte en la face, 
Et les larmes del cuer as ieus, 

^ Et pas seulement la description proprement physique, mais aussi 
celle de ses gestes, de sa maniere d'etre, de sentir, etc. Ce n'est pas ici 
le lieu d'etudier de pres les indications que contiennent a cet egard la 
geste et les romans. La premiere est bien pauvre en elements descriptifs 
de cette sorte. De meme qu'elle ignore I'analyse morale des senti- 
ments, de meme elle ne cherche point k en donner I'impression physique. 
Ses heros s'arrachent les cheveux ou la barbe, dechirent leurs vete- 
ments ou se pament dans les instants tragiques ; s'il s'agit de peindre 
en eux une douleur moins exaltee, elle nous les montre la " main a la 
maissele" {Aliscafts, 751 ; Gui Bgg., 943, etc.). Dans Aliscans,. 
Guibors se leve toute en larmes : 

"A son bliaut va ses iex essuant" (4041-2), 

et Renouart dort " pance levee". Chretien n'ignore pas ces images, 
elementaires (voyez par ex. Cltge's, 1378-9), mais il en fait un usage 
dlscret et supplee k la pauvrete de sa palette par des monologues ou 
des reflexions d'une remarquable finesse. 
* Lancelot, 4942, ss. 

B B 2 

'Xt']2 Importance du Folk-lore pour 

Si que li blans et li vermeus 
L'en moille contreval le vis."^ 

11 serait interessant de faire le d^pouillement et I'histoire 
de ces descriptions longtemps embryonnaires, puis d'une 
perfection relative dans le roman courtois, puis indefine- 
ment longues et d'une intolerable monotonie, aux XIII'- 
XIV^ siecles, pour aboutir enfin a ces esquisses de Villon 
qui ont la nettete de I'eau-forte et le charme de I'obser- 
vation.2 Un tel sujet n'est indifferent ni pour le penseur 
ni pour I'artiste. La sculpture du Xir et du XIII' siecle 
ne pent pas s'etre derobee a I'influence de la conception 
qu'on avait alors du geste et de toutes les attitudes, comma 
la peinture doit etre mise en correlation avec le sentiment 
de la nature que nous revelent les romans et les chansons. 
Quelle place occupera Benoit, a cet egard, dans la s^rie de 
nos trouveurs ? Sans prejuger les r^sultats d'une enquete 
bien conduite, il est permis de se demander si I'auteur de 
Troie n'est pas plus proche de I'ancienne geste que du roman 
courtois. De la premiere il respecte encore les plus insi- 
gnifiants poncifs ; il dira^ : 

"Co fu el tens de ver le bel 
Que dolcement chantent oisel 

^ Lai de P Ombre, v, 480-3. 

^ Citons du Petit Testame?tt (n) : 

" morte saison 
Lorsque les loups vivent de vent 
Et qu'on se tient en sa maison, 
Pour le frimas, pres u tison." 
Des pauvres Villon dira d'un trait : 

" Les autres mendient tous nudz 
Et payn ne voyent qu'aux fenestres." 

{Gr. Test., xxx.) 
Et d'une belle fille, que Page fietrit : 

" Plus ne servirez qu'un vieil prestre 
Ne que monnoye qu'on descrie." 

{Belle Heauliniere.) 
5 939, ss. 

les Etudes d' ancien Frmigais, 

O/ v> 

Que la flor paroist blanche et bale 
Et I'erbe verz, fresche et novele 
Et li vergier sont gent fiori, 
Et de lor follies revesti, 
L'ore dolce vente soef," 

allongeant tout au plus de quelques traits timides la 
formule eternelle des trouveurs pour caracteriser le prin- 
temps. Mais deja dans Eneas la description d'un marche 
et celle d'une tempete, reminiscence virgilienne, marquent 
un leger progres ; cette tempete, nous la retrouvons dans 
Yvain} dans Ginllaume d Engleterre^ et dans Tristan^ avec 
un luxe de developpements, qui nous avertissent que 
nous venons d'entrer dans une ere nouvelle.* Dans le 
Lancelot le paysage ccsse d'etre indifferent'' et il en sera 

^ 440, ss. 2 p_ j^o. 3 £(^ Yx. Michel, ii, 1592. 

* II est juste d'ajouter que Wace a d^jk une description de tempete 
dans la Conceptiojt N. Dajne; voyez sur ce point Holland, Chrestienv. 

* Citons encore un curieux passage du Lancelot, 6983 et sv., ou se 
trouve la premiere description d'un paysage, dont j'aie garde souve- 
nance, dans I'ancienne littdrature fran^aise : 

" En la lande un(s) sagremor ot 
Si bel que plus estre ne pot ; 
Molt tenoit place, molt ert lez, 
S'ert tot antor selonc orlez 
De menue erbe fresche et bele, 
Qui en toz tans estoit novele. 
Soz le sagremor gent et bel, 
Qui fu plantez del tans Abel, 
Sort une clere fontenelle 
Qui de corre est assez isnele. 
Li graviers ert et biax et genz 
Et clers con se ce fust argenz, 
Et Ii tuiax, si con ge cuit, 
De fin or esmere et cuit. 
Et cort parmi la lande aval 
Antre deus bois, parmi un val." 

Abstraction faite du v. 6984 qui appartient au bagage de I'epopde, et 
des chevilles maladroites des vv. 6990 et 6965, nous avons I^i 
petit tableau parfait. 

374 Importance du Folk-lore. 

de meme dans le Perceval, ou la palme revient pourtant aux 
Enumerations complaisantes dont la vie seigneuriale four- 
nissait par son luxe de table et d'ameublement le pretexte 
trop naturel. II faut done esperer d'une telle recherche la 
confirmation de vues exposees ailleurs.^ Ces vues, si nous 
sommes en droit de revendiquer pour elles une part d'origi- 
nalite, ne la devront-elles pas au groupement de quelques 
donnees qu'il appartient a I'avenir detendre et de mieux 
controler? Plusieursdeces donnees.nous esperons le montrer 
bientot, sont le fruit des etudes dont nous avons indique 
les titres, et c'est en vue d etudes semblables que nous avons, 
au fil de la lecture, amasse les autres. II y a la une mine 
de renseignements qui ne le cede, en precision ni en abon- 
dance, aux biographies, aux memoires et aux journaux des 
trois derniers siecles. C'est par la patiente et fastidieuse 
classification des figures de style, des traits descriptifs de 
toute sorte, meme des rimes accouplees de fagon ou d'autre, 
qu'on arrivera a determiner revolution des genres au Moyen 
Age, et tant que cette longue tache preparatoire n'aura 
pas ete accomplie, toute une province de notre histoire 
litteraire restera fermee a nos investigations. II n'est 
que juste de reconnaitre la part de merite qui reviendra a 
I'abnegation detudiants obscurs de Marbourg, de Halle 
et d'ailleurs, si nous pouvons explorer quelque jour cette 
province encore inconnue, afin d'en etablir la configuration.^ 

1 Moyen Age, 1891, p. 190. Elles seront reprises et discut^es dans 
un prochain travail sur Chretien. 

^ Je n'ai rien dit des dissertations de MM. Kentel et Altona qui se 
compl^tent I'une I'autre et ont un interet reel pour I'histoire du culte. 
D'autres coins de ce vaste domaine, les jeux et les divertissements popu- 
laires, la medecine, les superstitions relatives aux animaux, aux simples, 
aux pierres, etc., ont dejk dveille I'attention de docteurs allemands. 



I HAVE lately had so many pieces of folk-lore com- 
municated to me, that perhaps it will, on the whole, 
be best to keep them together. So, in the hope that the 
Editor will agree with me that they are worth publishing, 
I undertake to preside over the paste and scissors. I need 
only premise that some of the communications have been 
sent to me in writing, while others I have had to jot down 

The first thing I have to offer our readers is a transla- 
tion of a very curious poem published in a collection of 
Gaelic poetry made by Donald MacMhuirich, and entitled 
an Duanaire (Maclachlan and Stewart, Edinburgh, 1868). 
The original of the following piece will be found on pp. 
123-6, and the translation is from the pen of Mr. W. A. 
Craigie, a scholar of Oriel College, and a native of 
Dundee : — 

Glaistig Lianachain. 

{The Field-Sprite) 

One night, when the Gille-dubh-mor Mac Cuaraig was going 
home from the smithy, the Glaistig met him as he was going over 
Ciirr at Bial-ath Chroisg. 

" Hail ! big, black-haired lad," said she, 

" Would you be better of one behind you ?" 

" Yes, and of one before me," said he. 

And he gave her a little bit lift 

Off the bare beach, 

And bound her before him 

Surely and firmly 

On the back of his fine horse 

^^6 Folk-lore Miscellanea. 

With the charm-belt of Fillan. 

And he vowed and he swore 

Firmly and sternly 

That he would not let her out of his grasp 

Till he showed her in the presence of men. 

" Let me off," she said ; " and you'll get from me 

As indemnity and ransom 

A fold full of speckled cows, 

White-bellied, black, white-faced. 

The choice of hillocks and of fairs. 

For yourself and your kind after you." 

" I have that without you," said he, 

" And it will not suffice to free you." 

" Let me off, and I will leave your land 

Where I was dwelling in the hillocks, 

And I will raise for you to-night 

On the Foich over there 

A big, strong, stone house : 

A house that fire will not injure, 

Nor water, nor arrow, nor iron. 

And that will keep you dry and warm. 

Without fear or dread, and a charm on you 

From poison, and robbers, and fairies." 

" Fulfil your words," said he, 

" And you will get your freedom from me." 

She gave a cry with sorrow 

That was heard over seven hills. 

One would think it was the Horn of might. 

That Fionn had, that gave a blast. 

And there was neither knoll nor hillock 

That did not waken and answer : 

They collected on the other side of the L6n {meadoiv), 

Awaiting her orders. 

She put them to work in haste. 

Soberly and orderly. 

And they brought flags and stones 

Folk-lore Miscellanea. ^jj 

From the beach at Steall Chlianaig, 
Passing them from hand to hand. 

In Tom Innis of the beach 

Beams and rafters were cut, 

And long couples 

Smooth and stout, in the rowan wood ; 

While she kept constantly saying : 

" One stone above two stones. 

And two stones above one stone ; 

Pins, and turf, and wattle, 

Every tree in the wood 

Except wild cherry. 

Pity it should not be found as placed, 

And not placed as found." 

At the greying of the day 
There was turf on the ridge 
And smoke from out of it. 

He put the coulter on the fire 
To keep him from mischief, 
Since he knew the tricks 
And the spells of the fairies. 

When the house now was ready, 
And she had fulfilled each condition. 
He released the Siren 
And suffered no harm. 

She stretched out her hands to him 

To take farewell of him. 

But it was to take him to the fairy hill. 

But he stretched out the coulter, 
And the skin of her palm stuck to it. 
And she leapt on a grey stone 
Of the Foich to pass sentence on him. 

She gave him the curse of the people 
And the curse of the proud ; 

3/8 Folk-lore Miscellanea. 

And if we believe what we hear, 
She got her desire : 

" Grow Hke the rushes, 

Wither hke the fern, 

Grey in your childhood, 

Fading in the flower of your strength ; 

But I pray not that you may have no son in your place. 

I am a sprite of sorrow. 

That dwelt in the meadow-land ; 

I raised a big house on the Foich, 

And it has made a pain in my body. 

I will pour out my heart's blood 

On Sgurr Finisgeig up there, 

On three rushy hillocks. 

And they will be red till the day of doom." 

And she leapt in a green flame 
Over the shoulder of the crag. 

Mr. Craigie appends the following note : 

" The Glaistig is apparently a land-fairy, as I gather from the 
epithet Lianachain (which seems to be a diminutive of Lian, " a 
field" ; but may here be a local name), and from her speaking 
of living in the hillocks. The name Siren, however (Siiire in 
Gaelic), would indicate a sea-nymph." 

I have also to thank Mr. Craigie for the following verses 
of folk-lore : — 


Oidhch' an Fh^ll' Bride 

Thu'irt an nathair anns an t6m, 
" Cha bhean mi ri Clann lomhair 

Mur bean Clann lomhair rium." 

On the night of St. Bridget's day 

Said the adder in the knoll, 
" ril not meddle with Clan Ivar, 

If they meddle not with me." 

Folk-lore Miscellanea. 379 

Gach sgolb 's gach sgrath 
Gu taigh Mhic Rath 
Ach eidheann mu chrann 
Is fiodhagach. 

Every wattle and every turf 
To the house of MacRae 
Except ivy round the tree 
And wild-cherry. 


The "trump", or Jew's harp, was believed to be a good protection 
against witches. One time, a young fellow who had been sitting 
alone in the bothy playing it, began to sing these words : 

'S math an ceol an tromba Ghalld', 
An tromba Ghalld', an tromba Ghalld', 

'S math an ceol an tromba Ghalld' 
A h-uile h-uair 'g an cluichear i. 

'Tis a good music the Lowland trump 

Every time that it 's played. 

The Lowland trump, etc. 
'Tis a good music, etc. 

Bheir i buaidh air Buidseachan 

Air Buidseachan, etc. 
Bheir i buaidh, etc, 

A huile h-uair 'g an cluichear i. 

It will get victory over witches, etc. 
'S gun cuir i ruaig air Raidseachan, 

Air Raidseachan, etc. 
And it will put hags to flight, etc. 

But the Bana-bhuidseach was listening outside, and put in a 
verse when he stopped : 

'S math an ceol an tromba Ghalld', 
An tromba, etc. 

380 Folk-lore Miscellanea. 

'Tis a good music, etc. 

'S math an ceol, etc. 

Mur bitheadh pong a tha 'n a deigh. 

Were it not for the point^ that 's after it. 

The next communication is a note by Mr. Davies of 
Lincoln College. I received it last term, and it relates to 
a Glamorgan holy well, situated on the pathway leading 
from Coy church to Bredgled. 

It is the custom, he writes, for people suffering from any 
malady to dip a rag in the water and bathe the affected 
part. The rag is then placed on a tree close to the well. 
When I passed it about three years' ago there were hun- 
dreds of these shreds covering the tree, and some had 
evidently been placed there very recently. 

My next correspondent speaks also about wells, and of 
other things as well. He is Mr. D. J, Jones of Jesus College, 
a native of the Rhondda Valley in Glamorgan. His letter 
contains the following particulars : 

" There are three interesting wells in our county. Ffynnon 
Pen Rhys is only about two miles distant from my home. 
The custom there is for the person who wishes to be bene- 
fited, first to wash in the water, and afterwards to throw a 
pin into the well. 

" Dafydd Morgan wg, in his Hanes Morgamvy, speaks as 
follows of Ffynnon Marcros, or Marcros Well : ' Mae zu 
arferiad gan y rhai a iacheir ynddi i glymu darn bychan o 
lian neu gotwm wrth frigau pren sydd gerllau ac y masnt 
yno mor ami ar dail braidd.' (It is the custom for those 
who are healed in it to tie a shred of linen or cotton to the 
branches of a tree that stands close by ; and there the 
shreds are as numerous nearly as the leaves.) Marcros is 
near Nash Point, about eight miles from Bridgend, on the 

"Another well is that of Llancarfan, which is five or six 
miles from Cowbridge. The custom there is the same as 

^ No one seems to know the meaning of \.\\is pong^ or point, now. 

Folk-lore Miscellanea. 381 

at Ffynnon Marcros, and a tree near by is covered with 
rags, etc., tied to it. 

"In my neighbourhood, on seeing a white horse, you made 
sure of good luck by spitting on your boot, and not looking 
at the horse again. 

"A native of Caerleon, in Monmouthshire, says that it 
is a sure sign of death to see a robin near the house. 
I suppose exceptions would be made in case of a hard 

"It is in my neighbourhood a foreboding of death also to 
hear a dog howl or a cock crow at night ; and an old fellow 
near here went so far as to bury alive a pair of young fowls 
because the cock crew one night. On his neighbours asking 
him why he did it, he replied : ' Beth oedd yr hen, grad- 
wriaid jawl yn neid 'rhen swn ra 'ta? ' (But why did those 
demons of fowls make that hateful noise then ?) You must 
excuse a little flowery language, as it is a characteristic of 
the neighbourhood. 

" With regard to New Year's Day, it is much the same all 
over the country, as regards seeing a male first. South Cardi- 
ganshire specialises red-haired males as unlucky. While in 
the neighbourhood of Cardigan town a man of the name of 
Thomas was also among the unlucky ones. 

Bwyddeyn dwm 
Wrth weled Twm. 

The year will be heavy 
From seeing Tommie. 

"About Llanybyther, Carmarthenshire, males were divided 
into Brytlnvyr and umvyr. Umvyrvjere men of the names 
of Shon, Shencyn, Dafydd, and Ifan. Here, only univyr 
were considered lucky. 

" In Brecon, and some other places, to see a magpie cross 
your way was a sure sign of approaching ill-luck. A crow 
brought good luck, but some will have it cross your way 
only in one particular direction, from right to left, I believe. 
The Llanybyther district young ladies have a way of finding 

382 Folk-lore Miscellanea. 

out their future husbands by tying a handkerchief, or some- 
thing of the kind, round the stem of a bush [a gooseberry 
one generally], round which they walk seven times, or nine, 
sowing seeds, after which the future husband will come and 
untie the handkerchief" 

Mr. Jones adds that the Rhondda district is a good one 
for collecting folk-lore, as people from every county in 
Wales live there. 

The last two communications were received in response 
to appeals of mine on the subject of wells, and to dispel my 
doubts as to whether the habit of tying rags to trees near 
holy wells is known in Wales. Of course I cannot possibly 
entertain such doubts any longer as regards Glamorgan, 
at any rate. 

" Lunaria, or moon-fern, was, in old times, believed to possess 
such a singular affinity for iron that it is often mentioned as 
drawing the shoes from the feet of horses grazing in fields where 
it grew. Culpepper, the famous herbalist, tells of a troop of 
Cromwell's horse, under the command of the Earl of Essex, who 
lost all their shoes from this cause while passing over a Devon- 
shire moor. In Sylvester's translation of Du Barta's poems, this 
supposed dangerous property of moon-fern is likewise alluded to. 
In grubbing up old stumps of ash-trees, from which many suc- 
cessive trees have sprung, in the parish of Scotton, there was 
found, in many instances, an iron horse-shoe. One shown 
measured 4)4 inches by 4}^ inches. The workmen seemed to 
be familiar with this fact, and gave the following account :— The 
shoe is placed to ' charm' the tree, so that a twig of it might be 
used in curing cattle over which a shrew-mouse had run, or which 
had been * overlooked'. If they were stroked by one of these 
twigs, the disease would be charmed away." 

My interest at present in this is chiefly confined to the 
allusion it makes to the shrew-mouse, which, I presume, is 
the little rodent called in Welsh a llyg. For, in my native 
county of Cardigan, nothing can have been held more 
unlucky than to be run over by this beast. I have never 
heard of any man who had undergone such a misfortune ; 

Folk-lore Miscellanea. 383 

but it is a standing expression applied to an unlucky person 
or a good-for-nothing kind of fellow — ma fe fel tae llyg 
ivedi mind drorts fe ("he has just been run over by a ll}'g") 
— and my wife knows the same saying in Gwynedd. Per- 
haps some member of the Society will enlighten me on 
the origin of the unluckiness attaching to the l/yg. I am 
not well up in field-life, but I notice that Pugh explains 
llyg as " a mouse ; the shrew, or field-mouse" ; and Davies, 
in his Welsh-Latin Dictionary, gives it as inus araneus. 
But one thing is certain : it never now means the domestic 
mouse, which is known by the name of llygoden. Thus the 
llyg or shrew-mouse (if it be the shrew) takes the first 
place, and the house-mouse is known only by a name 
derived from that of the llyg. What is the significance of 
that sequence ? 

Some time ago I had the pleasure of taking Sir John 
Evans over the Pitt-Rivers Museum, a unique feature 
of modern Oxford, as those folk-lorists can testify who 
made a visit to it in the course of last year's Congress. 
There I called his attention to some " mythological totem- 
sculptures from British Columbia". One of these is 
labelled an " Ancestral Totem of the Bear Tribe", and 
further described as " Hoorts the Bear killing Towats the 
Hunter". A second, and more intelligible one to me, is 
described as representing the demon Scana residing within 
the killer-whale {orca ater). The whole piece of timber is 
rather longer than that of Hoorts, and measures, as Mr. 
Balfour thinks, from 9 to 10 feet by about 2 broad. The 
two ends are fashioned into two mouths, each partially open, 
and showing two formidable rows of teeth. In the belly 
of the whale sits Scana, across in a squatting posture, with 
his broad mouth close to his knees. I had found upon 
a previous occasion, what I regard as a miniature of the 
same sort of savage Jonah from the same part of the 
world. It is labelled an " Ivory Fetish for containing dis- 
embodied Spirits (Haidah)". The ivory is about 6 inches 
long, and a portion of the middle is occupied by a demon 

3S4 Folk-lore Miscellanea. 

sitting across like Scana, and the ends of the fetish are 
carved into open mouths, with the teeth regularly indi- 
cated, as in the case of Scana's residence. I should like 
to suggest that the carving here indicates the same animal 
forms, but the identity of the idea in the two cases is most 
striking and impossible to miss. I led my friend to look 
at the ivory fetish, and he made a remark which seemed to 
me well worth bearing in mind, namely, that the fetish for 
collecting disembodied spirits reminded him of Welsh 
stories relating how demons of the crockery-breaking 
species used to be exorcised in former days. Now one 
of the tasks of the exorcist was to make the demon 
reduce his dimensions, and when this was done, he got 
him, by hook or by crook, into some small receptacle or 
other, for the spirits then appear to have been quite as 
stupid as those with whom our modern spiritualists busy 
themselves. The most usual sort of receptacle was, perhaps, 
the exorcist's own snuff-box or tobacco-box, whence the 
offending demon might be transferred to a bottle, and 
safely corked for centuries to come. Is it possible that 
the snuff-box or tobacco-box only took the place of a 
specially-constructed contrivance for spirit-catching ? 

It is, in any case, fairly evident that no casual box could 
be equal to the ivory fetish with its open mouths, which 
emphasise the impossibility of backing out on the part of 
any demon prisoner who once begins to enter the portals 
of their teeth. It would not be to the point to say that 
the Christian exorcist availed himself of the aid of terrible 
formulae of words, unless it could be shown that the 
medicine-men of savage nations are badly equipped in 
this respect, which I should fancy highly improbable. 
Hoorts and Scana were presented to the Museum by Dr. 
Tylor in 1887, and it is much to be wished that he would 
publish a full account of them, if he has not already done 
so. To make it thoroughly intelligible, it should be 
accompanied with woodcuts or photographs of both ; 
also of the Haidah ivory, and other things of the same 

Folk- Lore Miscellanea. 385 

class, of which Mr. Balfour showed me several the other 
day. One would then be in a better position to judge 
how far the ideas of the natives of British Columbia can 
be matched by ideas of the same order underlying the 
folk-lore of the British Isles. 

Whilst at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, I noticed a somewhat 
recent acquisition, consisting of a very rude clay model, 
about a yard long, of the human figure. It is labelled as 
follows : " Corp creidh, or clay figure, rudely shaped to a 
representation of a person whose death is desired. It is 
stuck with pins and nails, etc., in order that the person 
may suffer corresponding torments, and perish miserably. 
Such figures are usually placed in a stream, with the idea 
that, as the clay is wasted away, so the enemy will waste 
and perish." 

The specimen is from G , in the county of In- 
verness, and it is the gift of Major G of that place. 

The history of the present specimen is, however, not that 
it was found in a stream, but discovered early one morning 

placed at Major G 's door. The workmen who found it 

there were horrified by its presence, and threw it away. The 
Major, having come to hear of this design on his life — for 
he was the victim intended — took the very enlightened 
revenge .on his ill-wishers of carefully collecting the disjecta 
membra of this rude model of himself, and of presenting 
it to our Museum. 

Since this occurred, I have heard a still more remark- 
able story of the same kind. A minister in the Highlands 
— I forget his name and the name of his church — hap- 
pened to offend some of his people by holding certain 
theological views not accepted by them. He, proving 
obdurate in his heresies, was suddenly observed to be 
wasting away like one whose strength and vigour were 
rapidly ebbing. His friends became anxious about him, 
and discovered the cause of his illness in a corp creidh 
deposited, by the theologians of the other party, in a 
stream that passed by his house. 

VOL. III. c c 

386 Folk- Lore Miscellanea. 

Of course, I cannot vouch for the correctness of this story, 
which has travelled to Oxford from the Highlands. It may- 
be taken as illustrative of practices which prevailed not so 
very long ago in other parts of Britain. And yet to what 
thoughts it must give rise in the mind of historians, who 
have eyes for other things than the intrigues alone of kings 
and their creatures ! Here we are, as it were, witnesses to 
the fetching of rust-eaten weapons from the armoury of 
the most primitive religion in the world, in order to be used 
in the warfare of the most modern of theologies. What 
a strange rencontre between the medicine-man of hoary 
antiquity, with his bag of Druidic tricks, and the academical 
divine who fortifies John Knox's tenets with patches of 
fashionable philosophy ! 

John Rhys. 


Report upon the Progress of Research during 
THE Past Two Years. 

(Cf. ante, Archaeological Review, Oct. 1888; Folk-Lore, 
June 1890.) 

1. Early Ethnology of the British Isles, being the Rhind Lectures in 

Archaeology, December 1889, by John Rhys. {Scottish Review, 
April 1890— July 1891.) 

2. Les premiers habitants de PEurope d^apres les ^crivains de 

Vantiquite et les travaux des linguistes, par H. DArbois de 
Jubainville. Second edition. Vol.1. Paris: Thorin. 

3. Recherches sur Vorigine de la propriete fonciere et des noms de 

lieux habites en France, par H. DArbois de Jubainville. Paris : 

4. Cours de littcratiire celtique. Vol. V : L'epopee celtique en 

Irlande, par H. D'Arbois de Jubainville. Paris : Thorin. 

5. Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition. Vols. IV, \. London : 


6. Folk-lore of the Isle of Man, by A. W. Moore. London : Nutt. 

7. Six Months in the Apennines, or a Pilgrimage in search Oj 

Vestiges of the Irish Saints in Italy, by Marg. Stokes. 
London : Bell. 

8. ZiMMER (H.). — Articles in the Gott. gel. Anzeiger, 1890, Oct. i. 

Zeitschrift fiir franz. Sprache uttd Literaiur, Vol. XII, Part i, 
and Vol. XIII. 

9. Cours de litteraturc celtiqice. Vols. Ill, IV : Les Mabinogion 

traduits en entier pour la premiere fois, avec un commentaire 
explicatif et des notes critiques, par J. Loth. Paris : Thorin. 

10. Studies in the Arthurian Legend, by John Rhys. Oxford : 

Clarendon Press. 

11. Hagen (P.). — Parzivalstudien. I, II. {Gerjiuuiia, iZ()2, \ , 2.) 

12. Die franz'dsischen Gralromane, von Rich. Heinzel. Vienna: 


C C J 


88 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

Les mots latins dans Ics langues brittonigues, avec une introduction 
sur la romanisation de I'lle de Bretagne, par J. Loth. Paris : 

THE two years that have passed since the publication 
of my last report will rank among the most fruitful 
in the study of Celtic antiquity, thanks chiefly to the 
labours of Mr. Whitley Stokes and of Professor Heinrich 
Zimmer. So much new material has been made accessible 
to students, so far reaching have been the theories advanced 
and are the conclusions that inevitably force themselves 
upon the Celtologist, that I despair of being able within 
the space at my command to adequately express the scope 
and import of what has been achieved and attempted.^ 

Following my usual practice in these reports, I deal first 
with investigations devoted to early continental Celtdom ; 
then with Ireland, the records of which must ever remain 
our chief source of knowledge of Celtic antiquity and the 
Celtic genius ; lastly, with the Brythonic Celts of Britain and 
Brittany, whose chief importance in so far as these reports 
are concerned lies in the fact that the Arthurian romance 
originated among and was mainly elaborated by them. 

Prof Rhys's Rhind Lectures may conv^eniently be con- 
sidered under the first heading, although they are chiefly 
concerned with the Celtic inhabitants of these islands. 
Undoubtedly, however, the most suggestive of the many 
suggestive speculations contained in these lectures are 
those which attempt to determine the early habitat of the 
Celtic-speaking peoples, the order in which the hypothetical 
ancestors of the present Gaels and Brythons spread over 
the Continent and throughout the British Isles, and their 
relation to the populations which they conquered or dis- 
possessed. Prof Rhys's investigations hardly allow of being 
summarised, and he would be the first to admit that he has 

^ I need hardly say that I make no attempt at detailed criticism. 
My object is to bring clearly before those who are not specialists the 
salient results and main lines of investigation. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 389 

reached no definitely settled results. His work is essentially- 
pioneer work, and it would be unfortunate if the rather 
large class of persons whose interest in Celtic matters is 
not controlled by critical instinct were to regard the num- 
berless brilliant hypotheses scattered throughout these 
lectures as other than tentative. The principle, however, 
which underlies most of Prof. Rhys's theories deserves to 
be brought into prominence — it is that the Celtic-speak- 
ing tribes were numerically insignificant compared with 
the populations they subdued, and that their own speech, 
institutions, and beliefs were profoundly modified by those 
of these peoples. 

This principle, of which Prof Rhys has given examples in 
these pages (cf ante, iii, 260), is accepted by other scholars. 
A striking instance is furnished by M. S. Reinach's note on 
Druidism {Revue Celt., 1892, April). He claims that it 
represents the pre-Celtic (probably pre-Aryan) worship of 
the race which erected the megalithic monuments, that its 
spirit was in striking contrast, not to say marked hostility, 
to the anthropomorphic conception of religion found among 
the Aryan tribes of Greece, Italy, and Asia, and that it 
shared this particularity with the Pythagorean doctrine. 
Indeed, whilst M. Reinach very properly lays no stress upon 
the theory of certain ancients that Pythagoras was a pupil 
of the Druids, he evidently considers that it has a legitimate 
justification in the affinity of the two systems of belief 

It is not easy to exaggerate the importance of this 
expression of opinion from a scholar fully equipped with 
all the appliances of modern research and animated by 
the strictest critical method. M. Reinach deliberately 
countenances a traditional theory, discarded for a while as 
unscientific, whilst at the same time he indicates how that 
theory must be modified to make it accord with existing 
knowledge. I shall have frequent occasion in the follow- 
ing pages to instance other cases in which the traditional 
view has been vindicated or rehabilitated in its essence, if 
not in all its details. 

390 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

M. D'Arbois de Jubainville's works, cited at the head of 
this article under Nos. 2 and 3, lie outside the scope of 
these reports, but must be mentioned as indispensable to 
any serious student of Celtic antiquity. 

Turning to Ireland, we find that great activity has been 
shown in that first requisite of scholarly progress — the 
publication and translation of texts. Mr. Whitley Stokes 
has issued, in the Transactions of the Philological Society 
(for 1891-92), the Bodleian fragment of Cormac's Glossary, 
Irish text and English version. Although a modern tran- 
script (1440 A.D.), it was made, as the editor points out> 
from an older text than that represented by any other 
MS. save the nth century fragment in the BooJ^: of 
Leinster. According to Mr. Whitley Stokes, the Glossary 
in its oldest form was written (the italics are mine) not 
much before the nth century, i.e., at the end, instead of 
at the beginning, of the loth century, the traditional date. 
It is noteworthy that all the articles (" inibas forosna'\ 
" lethecJi\ " nmgh-e'me" , " Manannan mac lir'', " nescoif\ 
^^ ore \ ^' pru It") -which, make Cormac's Glossary so invalu- 
able to the student of Celtic myth and saga are to be 
found in this fragment. 

Mr. Whitley Stokes has also published in the Revue Cel- 
tique the most important text of the so-called mythological 
cycle (cf Folk-Lore Journal, ii, 175), the "Second Battle 
of Moytura". In this story we see what are presumably 
the personages of the ancient Irish pantheon masquerading 
in the guise of prehistoric kings and chiefs, yet retaining 
the magic attributes and capacities which distinguish the 
actors in the god- and hero-tales of nearly every race that 
has produced such tales. The MS. tradition of the tale as 
a whole is late, and it is open to the sceptic to urge that 
these magic supernatural traits do not come down from a 
primitive pre-Christian stage, but are simply part of a story- 
telling machinery common throughout the Middle Ages, 
and mainly derived from blurred reminiscences of classic 
fable. This is a theory that must be re-faced in respect of 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 391 

each separate tale or cycle of tales, that cannot be re- 
jected or accepted on a priori grounds, but must in each 
case be judged mainly by the internal evidence furnished 
by the tale itself If we examine the Moytura story we 
find, apart from the fact that a portion of it occurs in 
Cormac's Glossary, strong evidence of its archaic character 
in the almost entire absence of any Christian colouring, in 
the comic nature of certain of the supernatural personages 
(the role of the Dagda, the assumed head of the Irish 
pantheon, recalls that of Herakles in Aristophanes, or, 
with less dignity, that of Thor in some of the Norse 
legends), and in the lack of either incident or characterisa- 
tion that seems referable to classic sources. Our present 
text, which is obviously late and much interpolated, 
presents an interesting literary problem in the parallelism 
of the final passage with certain portions of the Vol7ispa. 

The impression of genuine and archaic origin which this 
text produces, when read by itself, is much strengthened 
by comparison with another important tale translated by 
Mr. Whitley Stokes, the story of the Boroma tribute 
exacted from Leinster by Tuathal Techtmar, High King of 
Ireland in the second century, and levied for a space of 500 
years, until Saint Moiling procured its remission by a piece 
of verbal trickery. The two stories may well have assumed 
substantially their present shape at about the same period, 
viz., from the 9th to the nth century, and probably owe 
that shape to the same class of men, the monkish scholars 
and transcribers who have preserved for us the legends 
elaborated by the Ollamhs. Yet the character of the two 
tales is entirely different — the one obviously mythic, the 
other professedly historic, non-historic accretions being of 
a legendary or romantic but not of a mythic nature ; the 
one free from any traces of Christianity save the most 
superficial and such as betray at once their late and inter- 
polated origin, the other, in consonance with its historical 
framework, relying wholly upon Christianity for its super- 
natural element. If, as some would claim, the originating 

392 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

cause of both story-cycles is to be found in an alien and 
purely literary culture, is such consistent adaptation of 
treatment to subject-matter conceivable for one moment ? 
Must not rather the unprejudiced observer recognise that 
the mediaeval story-teller is relating something much older 
than himself ; something derived, substantially, from that 
stage of culture to which it professes to belong ? To judge 
otherwise were to look upon these tales as historical novels. 
This genre was not entirely unknown in the Middle Ages, 
but we know by a famous example, Geoffrey of Mon- 
mouth's pseudo-history of Britain, how it was conceived 
and elaborated. Nothing more alien in spirit and execu- 
tion to the Irish tales we are considering can be imagined. 

We further owe to Mr. Whitley Stokes text and trans- 
lation of the oldest version of Cormac's Adventure in the 
Land of Promise^ (a modern recension of which had been 
published by Mr. Standish Hayes O'Grady in vol. iii of the 
Ossianic Society's Transactions), one of the most interesting 
early Irish descriptions of the Otherworld, and remarkable 
in its present, relatively late form, from having received 
some slight Christian touches, which can, however, be 
easily separated from the main body of the tale. 

The same volume of the Irische Texte contains the text 
and German version by Professor Windisch of perhaps the 
most curious and, to folk-lorists, most interesting of the 
remscela, or introductory stories prefixed to the Tain bo 
Cuailgne. The greatest of Irish epics is traced back to 
the quarrel of two swineherds who war against each other 
for years in different shapes, both human and animal, and 
finally reincarnate themselves in two bulls, the rivalry 
between which it is that leads to the invasion of Ulster by 
the allied forces of the remainder of Ireland. As I pointed 
out in my paper on Heroic Legend, read before the Second 
International Folk-lore Congress, this is practically the 
oldest known example of the Transformation fight-incident, 
which, as is well known, occurs, though in different form, 
^ Irische Texte, vol. iii, i. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 393 

in the i6th century Welsh tale of Taliesin, and has been 
boldly claimed as a late loan from the East. Its presence 
in an Irish tale, which can hardly be younger than the 
seventh century, and which is probably centuries older, 
shows how baseless this claim is. 

The number of Irish texts which have been translated 
is considerable, but they are either scattered through 
the pages of specialist periodicals, or, as a rule, unaccom- 
panied by such critical comment as enables the layman 
to judge of their place in Celtic literature. It is the 
merit of M. D'Arbois de Jubainville's Epopee celtique 
to make the general reader free of a domain hitherto 
reserved for the specialist, or only thrown open to 
the public at large without the necessary sign-posts. A 
selection is given of the more important texts, the MS. 
sources are enumerated, the authenticity and development 
of the versions are discussed, the scientific value of the 
ancient Irish sagas is set forth briefly but clearly. I think 
too well of this book not to hope that a second edition 
may soon be called for, and in anticipation thereof would 
point out what I cannot but consider serious defects, 
defects that may, however, be easily remedied. A large 
amount of space is wasted upon French versions of Mac- 
pherson's Ossian. Whatever Macpherson's merits as a 
writer may be, he throws absolutely no light upon the 
origin and early form of the Gaelic heroic epos. Again, 
the volume, due to the collaboration of M. D'Arbois and his 
pupils, has not been brought up to date. Thus the trans- 
lation and comment upon the Voyage of Mael Duin, due 
to M. Ferd. Lot, date from before Prof. Zimmer's masterly 
account of the imniran literature (cf. ante, i, p^. 237). M. Lot 
cannot be blamed for not having anticipated Prof. Zim- 
mer's results, but the public is justly entitled to complain 
that he has not revised his study in accordance with the 
latest and best information. 

I pass from the disagreeable task of fault-finding to the 
consideration of some views advanced by the editor which, 

394 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

if correct, have an important bearing upon the study of 
ancient Celtic literature. M. D'Arbois cites the institution 
of marriage as exemplifying that archaic side of early 
Irish civilisation upon which he rightly lays so much stress. 
The household chief, he says, with perhaps unnecessary 
realism, held his women in little more estimation than he 
did the females of his flocks and herds, and was as indif- 
ferent to the paternity of the offspring in the one as in the 
other case. M. D'Arbois is better acquainted with Irish 
law than any man living, and I doubt not his having 
good ground for such an extreme assertion. But I must 
point out that it is not warranted by the testimony of the 
very sagas which he prints. True, the di'oit du seigneur is 
prominent in the oldest tales, and seems to have been as 
widely spread an institution in ancient Ireland as it still is 
in certain parts of Africa. But the Toc/i?narc Einer {Arch. 
Review, vol. i) turns in part upon Cuchulainn's reluctance 
to submit to this custom. A similar reluctance is shown 
by one of the personages in the Boroma tribute story 
{Rev. Celt., xiii, p. 59). The story of Curoi mac Daire's death 
is partly a sermon against female fickleness ; the stories of 
Mesgegra's death, and of the Sons of Uisnech, are partly 
examples of woman's faithfulness. These instances might 
easily be multiplied, but they suffice to prove either that 
M. D'Arbois, generalising too widely, has drawn an over- 
black picture of the marriage relation in ancient Ireland, 
or else that the romantic sagas are the outcome of a much 
later stage of national development than that testified to 
by the customals. If this is so, one can hardly doubt that 
the active principle in this development must have been 
Christianity. On the other hand, if Christianity affected 
the spirit of these stories in so vital a particular, would its 
influence have stopped there? But on the whole M. D'Ar- 
bois' opinion of the marriage-tie in early Ireland would 
seem, if justified, to prove the relative lateness of the 
heroic tales. Now one of these tales, the Toclimarc Enter,. 
contains the incident of the father and son combat, found 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 395 

also in Teutonic saga not later than the eighth century 
(Hildebrand and Hadubrand), and in Iranian saga not 
later than the tenth century (Rustem and Sohrab), Com- 
menting upon these facts ( Waifs and Strays, IV) I claimed 
the Irish tale of Cuchulainn and Conlaoch as the Celtic 
variant of a pan-Aryan incident. But M. D'Arbois goes 
much further than this. According to him the German 
version is dependent upon the Irish one, and is a result of 
that Teutonic and Celtic contact in central Europe which 
lasted throughout the fourth and third centuries B.C. Again, 
he maintains that the Iranian version, which, although only 
known to us in Firdusi's poem, is certainl}' ages older than 
Christianity, represents a younger and less perfect form of 
the story than does the Irish one. Sohrab, he points out, 
has to fight against an Amazon queen. On the part of 
the son this combat is meaningless, and the incident in 
Firdusi can only be a distorted reminiscence o{\he fathers 
overcoming^ the Amazon who is to be the mother of the 
son, never to be seen again by him until the last fatal 
encounter. This is the form of the story in the Tochmarc 
Enter. If M. D'Arbois is correct the Irish tale is thrown 
back into prehistoric times, must indeed date as far back 
as any known portion of Hellenic saga. But the con- 
stancy of Emer (she refuses the chief of Munster's heir for 
Cuchulainn's sake) is an essential element of the story. 
The men and women of early Ireland were, then, on a 
somewhat higher level in love matters than the beasts of 
the field ? 

M. D'Arbois accords little space to the Finn or Ossianic 
cycle. As is well known, this has formed the subject of 
a revolutionary series of investigations by Prof. Zimmer. 
I have summarised these for English readers in The Aca- 
rt'^;;// of February 1891 (reprinted Waifs and Strays, IV, with 
additions and modifications), and can only deal briefly 
with the subject here. Traditional Irish history makes 
Finn a third-century warrior. Modern scholars have ac- 
cepted this date. Some have considered the Finn saga to 

39^ Celtic Myth and Saga. 

be mainly historical, with later romantic accretions ; others, 
like myself, have held it to be mainly ancient myth re- 
crystallised around a third-century name. According to 
Professor Zimmer, Finn was an early ninth-century half- 
Viking, half-Irishman, an opponent of the Dublin Danes, 
by whom he was slain. Let us first see what this theory 
postulates respecting the Irish records that have come 
down to us : {a) That the genuine history of the ninth 
century, in so far as this hypothetical struggle of Finn 
against the Danes is concerned, was practically left un- 
recorded in its chronological place save for the chance 
entry of the defeat and death of Caitill Find ; {U) that the 
main elements of this history were used as the basis of 
an historical romance the date of which was thrown back 
five hundred years ; {c) that the statements of this romance 
reacted upon the genuine historical record of the third- 
tenth centuries. No reason is assigned for this process, 
and the only explanation of it vouchsafed is that the 
genuine history of the early ninth, was strikingly like the 
genuine history of the third century, so that confusion was 
made possible. 

It is difficult to find in English history an analogy to 
the process postulated. If, however, we can imagine the 
stories about Alfred's resistance to the Danes being carried 
back to the fifth century, and thus originating the story of 
Arthur's resistance to the Saxons, we can form some idea 
of what Professor Zimmer assumes to have taken place in 
Ireland. The analogy, of course, halts in this, that the 
men who sang of Alfred were of other race than those 
who told of Arthur ; but it will serve the purpose. 

That the Irish could create pseudo-history on a large 
scale we know, but we also know why they did it. The 
annalists of the eighth and succeeding centuries were Chris- 
tian monks, and they could only conceive mythic tradition 
as pseudo-history. It was inevitable that they should 
euhemerise the national mythology. They obeyed exactly 
the same impulse as Nennius or Saxo Grammaticus. But 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 397 

what motive could possibly account for such wholesale 
reconstruction of ex hypothesi genuine history as is re- 
quired by Prof Zimmer's theory ? 

A priori objections such as this cannot, however, stand 
against facts. Unfortunately, however, for Prof Zimmer, 
his facts, in so far as they belong to the domain of 
philology, are contested by philologists of at least equal 
standing with himself Disclaiming all competence in the 
question, I can merely note that the balance of authority is 
decidedly against Prof Zimmer. In so far as the facts belong 
to the domain of history, I can appreciate the force of the 
arguments against him. Thus it is a requisite of his theory 
that the words " fiann", " feni", and their allied forms date 
from after 850 A.D. But M. D'Arbois de Jubainville cites 
several examples of the word " feni" (in the sense of 
Irishmen or men in general) from what are apparently the 
most archaic portions of the Irish customals, thus cutting 
the ground entirely from under Prof Zimmer's feet. 

Pending fresh evidence, one can only state that Prof 
Zimmer's attack upon the traditional account of the Finn 
heroic cycle has failed. That this is so is partly that 
scholar's own fault, or rather has its explanation in certain 
peculiarities of his temperament. Prof Zimmer has a 
wonderful capacity for detail investigation, a passion for 
elaborating equally every portion of the hypotheses he is 
fond of constructing. He is thus led to lay as much stress 
upon what may be secondary as upon what are vital 
elements of his theory. He fortifies an unimportant out- 
post in such wise that its capture seems equivalent to that 
of the central donjon. This tendency of his makes his 
studies most instructive reading. Nowhere else does one 
find such an enormous mass of detail brought together. 
But in addition to laying him open unnecessarily to 
damaging onslaught, this tendency has the further dis- 
advantage of leading astray persons who are unable to 
discriminate, and are inclined to accept or reject theories 
en bloc. Prof Zimmer is right in many things, say these 

398 Celtic Myth at id Saga. 

persons, therefore he must be right in all, and they forth- 
with choose his most questionable theory upon which to 
build further hypotheses. 

This is the explanation of an article by M. Pflugk- 
Hartung in the Revue Celtiquc. The writer's object is 
praiseworthy. Struck by the difficulty of dating the earliest 
Irish stories by purely literary tests, he turned to archaeo- 
logy for more trustworthy evidence. The material life 
pictured in these stories seemed to him inconsistent with 
the testimony of the peat-moss and the chambered barrow. 
In this perplexity, Prof Zimmer's contention for the 
marked influence exercised upon Irish heroic literature by 
Viking creed and fancy was a ray of light. As is the way 
of disciples, he went one better, and for him the great 
mass of Irish sagas are post- Viking compositions of the 
tenth century, the material and moral civilisation of which 
(and not that of pre-Christian Ireland) it is they reflect. 

This is a bold contention, and it is worth a moment's 
inquiry whether archaeological evidence alone is capable of 
proving it. That archaeology can throw valuable light 
upon the origin and nature of a text is certain, but the 
light is apt to be very dim unless we have a previously 
formed idea of how the text came into being. Now with 
regard to the older stratum of Irish heroic legend (that of 
which Cuchulainn is the chief hero), the doctrine which 
holds the field, and which is based chiefly upon Prof. 
Zimmer's admirable researches into the composition of the 
texts contained in the Leabhar na Ji Uidhre, is briefly this. 
Reduced to writing for the first time in the seventh century, 
when Christianity had at once introduced a new culture, 
established new ideals, and forced the older world it 
dispossessed to manifest itself in permanent form on forfeit 
of disappearing altogether, the after history of these tales 
belongs to written literature rather than to oral tradition. 
But they were not slavishly transcribed ; each age modern- 
ised and revised them, put new words in the place of 
obsolete ones, glossed archaisms, transformed or eliminated 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 399 

intelligibilities. Nay more — variant versions were welded 
together, harmonising additions were made, the loose 
chronology of the saga was brought into accord with 
pseudo-history, scraps of new learning were plentifully 
introduced. Moreover, so Prof Zimmer thinks, changes 
were actually made in the framework of the stories under 
the influence of Norse legend. But with this exception 
he looks upon the tales as still seventh century in sub- 
stance; i.e., the changes made between the hypothetical 
original written form and the eleventh-century texts we 
possess are, he holds, secondary and not primary. What 
follows ? Obviously, that little reliance can be placed upon 
any archaeological argument a silentio : we cannot con- 
demn the texts as post-Christian -because they do not 
contain traits which we 'know to be pre-Christian ; these 
may, are likely indeed, to have often dropped out. Nor 
can we lay much stress upon the archaeological evidence 
in unimportant details where nothing stood in the way of 
the transcriber's or reviser's substituting a familiar for an 
unfamiliar or wholly forgotten word or idea. On the other 
hand, every archaic trait, however slight, must date back to 
the original form. The monkish editors and transcribers 
simply could not, even had the thought suggested itself to 
them, have invented details of manners and customs long 
passed away in order to give their versions an old-fashioned 
look. Unless, indeed — for there is an unless — certain traits 
held their ground by virtue of their belonging to an arsenal 
of epic cliches. But an epic convention implies a long 
and vigorous epic production, and M. Pflugk-Hartung is 
debarred from using this latter argument, as he maintains 
that the Irish sagas were new compositions of the tenth 
century. Let us then test his argument by the canons we 
have just laid down. Iron is frequently mentioned in these 
tales. But, says M. Pflugk-Hartung, iron was unknown in 
pre-Christian Ireland, ergo Qvery tale in which iron appears 
must have been compo.sed long after Christianity. On the 
other hand, the tales which profess and approve themselves 

400 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

to be the oldest, invariably picture the warrior as fighting- 
from his war-chariot in the very guise set forth in the pages 
of Caesar. We do not know exactly when this custom 
ceased in Ireland, but it is safe to say hundreds of years 
before the tenth century. Now this, says M. Pflugk- 
Hartung, is a matter of no importance. Who does not 
see that the very contrary is the truth ? That even if we 
knew^ — ^which we do not — the exact date of the introduction 
of iron into Ireland, its mention in a story only gives a 
clue to the date of the redaction, not of the story itself? 
that the change from the obsolete metal to the one in use 
when the scribe wrote is a most natural one, whereas the 
retention of an entirely obsolete mode of fighting is 
inexplicable, unless we admit the substantially archaic 
character of the text in which it is found .-' 

Curiously enough, M. Pflugk-Hartung separates himself 
from Prof Zimmer on the question of the late date of the 
Finn cycle. It is easy to see why. Whatever opinion 
may be held concerning the origin of this cycle, it is certain 
that the great bulk of the stories composing it belong to 
a much later stage of composition than do those of the 
Ultonian cycle. Many, it is quite possible, were first 
reduced to writing in the tenth and eleventh centuries ; 
many, again, are even later. Now the difference in the 
presentment of material life is most marked, and M. Pflugk- 
Hartung may well have felt embarrassed at finding tales 
probably composed at the very time to which he ascribes 
the Ultonian cycle, and which yet picture a material life 
so different and in many respects more advanced. The 
extraordinary conclusion at which he arrives is, that the 
Ultonian or Cuchulainn cycle, as we have it, is posterior to 
that of Finn. 

I may here note the interesting Ossianic talcs published 
by M. L. C. Stern in the January number of the Revue 
Celtique. One of these is important as being a prose 
amplification of an episode told in verse in the Book 
of Leinster, the others as being hitherto quite unknown. 

Celtic Myth a?id Saga. 401 

In one, Finn is found predicting the coming of Christianity. 
This trait, a commonplace of the cycle, is easy to explain 
if, pre-Christian at first, these stories were finally adapted 
by Christian scribes. On Prof. Zimmer's theory it is well- 
nigh inexplicable. 

I have dwelt at some length on M. Pflugk-Hartung's 
article, little as its conclusions deserve notice, because it is 
characteristic of a current tendency to strain archaeological 
evidence beyond its due limits. That much may be hoped, 
however, from a searching investigation of Irish prehistoric 
art in all its phases I firmly believe, and I trust that the 
younger generation of Irish scholars will not suffer the 
work of Todd and Petrie and Wilde to remain uncom- 

Comparatively little has been done in regard to the 
collection and study of modern Gaelic folk-lore. Colonel 
Wood- Martin, in the third and concluding volume of his 
great work upon the Antiquities and History of Sligo, 
devotes chapters to manners and customs, and to legends 
and superstitions, both of which may be consulted with 
profit, particularly with regard to well-worship. Mr. 
Moore's Folk-lore of tlie Isle of Man is a useful and careful 
summary of what is known Volumes iii and iv of 
Waifs and Strays of Celtic J raditio7i contain valuable and 
authentic material for the study of Gaelic folk-fancy. The 
interest of the late Rev. A. Cameron's Reliquice Celticce 
(to which I have already drawn attention ajite, p. 280) is 
mainly philological. It is earnestly to be hoped that all 
Highlanders will welcome this worthy memorial of Scot- 
land's greatest Gaelic scholar. I may be permitted to place 
on record the claims I have advanced in these pages {ante, 
March 1892) on behalf of the Gaelic nidrchen, Gold Tree 
and Silver Tree, that it is the most faithful representative 
of the story-root whence have sprung the German niiirchen 
of Schneewittchen and the twelfth-century Breton lai of 

One point of no small importance has been partly 

VOL. in. D D 

402 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

cleared up during the last few months. Readers of FOLK- 
LORE may recollect that one of the sins which Prof. 
Zimmer laid to my charge was that I used the Gaelic story 
of the Great Fool as evidence of the Celtic origin of the 
incident, similar to it, found in the Conte du Graal and in 
the Welsh tale of Peredur. I promised to investigate 
this charge.^ The Gaelic story has hitherto been known in 
two portions, one the lay proper, in verse, the other a 
prose introduction to the lay, printed by Campbell from 
oral tradition (^Popular Tales, vol. iii). It was from this 
prose introduction that I chiefly drew my parallels between 
the Gaelic and French stories. But the Irish text of 1716, 
to which Prof. Zimmer drew my attention afresh, turns 
out, as my friend Dr. Hyde reports, to be a prose version, 
comprising both Campbell's introduction and the lay, and 
to be obviously dependent, in the first portion at least, 
upon some Arthurian romance akin to the English Sir 
Perceval. Until the whole is translated it would be unsafe 
to say if this prose text represents the original of the lay 
of the Great Fool, or if it be not rather a welding 
together of the lay and an Arthurian romance. In any 
case, Campbell's oral version is closely akin to the Irish 
text of 17 16, and as this may possibly be a mere transla- 
tion from the English or French, it cannot be accepted, for 
the present at least, as an independent variant of the 
Perceval story. Any arguments which I have based upon 
the Campbell fragment, whether in my " Aryan Expul- 
sion and Return Formula among the Celts" (^Folk-lore 
Record, iv) or in my " Legend of the Grail", must there- 
fore be considered invalid, whilst arguments based upon the 
lay (of which I still doubt the Arthurian origin) should for 
the present be left out of account. 

In Romania for January 1892, M. F. Lot, discussing 
the swan-children incident in the " Children of Lir", and 
the parallel between Diarmaid's combat in the " Pursuit 

' Cf. my article, Folk-Lore, June 1891. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 403 

of the Gilla Dacker'V and Owain's combat with the knight 
of the fountain,- expressed himself sceptical as to the 
possibility of any French Arthurian influence upon Irish 
story-telling. In view of the facts adduced above this 
scepticism is not justified. It is, however, impossible to 
dogmatise as to the extent of this influence before all the 
Irish Arthurian texts have been edited, translated, and 
critically examined. 

Before leaving Irish soil I would fain linger for a 
moment over the fascinating volume in which Miss Stokes 
follows up the tracks of the wandering Irish monks who 
founded churches and monasteries in the Lombardy and 
Tuscany of the sixth and seventh centuries. No account 
of the development of the Irish race but must give its due 
weight to the fact that within a relatively short period 
after the introduction of Christianity into Ireland Irish 
missionaries were at work, respected and revered, through- 
out Western Europe. We should have to assume 
for pre-Christian Ireland, even if tradition did not assert 
its existence, a stage of advanced barbarism (practically 
the stage revealed to us by the oldest epic narratives) as 
a background to the achievements of Columba and his 
fellows. With a stage of savagery, such as some writers 
contend for, immediately preceding the introduction of 
Christianity, the missionary process is inexplicable. 

Thus, in Gaelic philology, accumulation of fresh material 
rather than new and generally accepted critical theory has 
been the mark of the last two years. In Brythonic philology, 
on the other hand, criticism has been far more important 
than publication of texts. Before I proceed to discuss the 
great series of investigations by which Professor Zimmer 
has thrown so much light upon the origin and development 
of the Arthurian cycle, I may be allowed, in spite of my 
close connection with the work, to point out the significance 

^ Cf. Joyce's Celtic Romances for the story. 
2 " The Lady of the Fountain," in Lady Guest's Mabinogion. 

D D 2 

404 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

of Dr. Sommer's researches into the sources of Malory's 
Morte DartJmr} Malory is the latest in da.te of the 
mediaeval writers who worked up the Arthurian stories 
into a cyclic whole. The compilers of the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries had welded the enormous mass of 
episodic incident that lay to their hand into four or five 
well-defined branches or sub-cycles, and had connected 
these in a more or less artificial way. This process was 
continued by Malory, who practically gives us an abridg- 
ment of the whole story cycle in one continuous narrative. 
What was the relation of this fifteenth-century compilation 
to the older compilations of the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries? In how far could it be used for the purpose of 
recovering the earliest forms of the stories ? Questions 
these not seriously attempted, save in the case of the 
Lancelot story by M. Gaston Paris, until Dr. Sommer took 
them in hand and now finally answered. Henceforth 
Malory can be used by the student, or rather must be 
used by the student in conjunction with Dr. Sommer's 
Commentary, if he wishes to obtain in the quickest and 
pleasantest mode possible a general knowledge of the 
Arthurian romance. 

Whilst this storehouse of legend, which is also one of 
the noblest monuments of our literature, has been edited 
with a special view to the requirements of the scholar, the 
foundations of early Welsh history have been laid afresh 
by Mr. Egerton Phillimore in his edition of the Annates 
Cambri(E and Old Welsh Genealogies, from Harl. MS. 
3859 (F Cymmrodor, ix, 141), in the notes which he has 
added to the articles by Mr. J. E. Lloyd and Mr. William 
Edwards (F Cymmrodor, xi, pp. 15-101), and in the 
masterly article on the publication of Welsh Historical 
Records {Y Cymmrodor, xi, pp. 133-175)- Research into 
the origins of the Arthurian romance must always be 
based in part upon the early Welsh historical documents, 

* These form the third volume of Dr. Sommer's edition of the Morte 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 405 

and it is indispensable to know what is their oldest 
and most authentic form, and what changes the state- 
ments contained in them have undergone. This know- 
ledge is conveyed to us with a precision and accuracy 
beyond all praise in Mr. Phillimore's articles. 

The publication of Old-Welsh texts which is being con- 
tinued by Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans and Prof Rhys concerns 
at present the student of language rather than the student 
of fable. It is, however, upon their text of the Red Book 
version of the Mabinogion that M. Loth has based his 
French version. Experts are generally agreed that this 
translation represents the Welsh original more fully and 
more closely than does the English one by Lady Guest. 
It is, moreover, provided with a translation of the Triads 
arranged according to the sources, of the Annals and 
Genealogies printed by Mr. Phillimore in the Cymmrodor, 
and of various other documents which throw light upon the 
mediaeval Welsh tales. M. Loth is well read in Welsh 
literature, and his commentary derived from this source is 
at once fuller and more precise than that of Lady Guest's 
edition. When to these merits the advantages of cheap- 
ness and accessibility are added, it may easily be under- 
stood that M. Loth's translation has rapidly become the 
vulgate to which all scholars refer as they do to Mr. Evans 
and Prof Rhys' edition of the original. It has, however, 
defects to which attention should be called. The com- 
mentary is sadly to seek in all that concerns the study of 
comparative literary history ; here M. Loth has practically 
ignored all recent research and contented himself with 
reproducing Lady Guest's notes. But my chief complaint 
is with the version itself M. Loth has striven to reproduce 
the Welsh text as closely as possible. This is well, but a 
translation should be something more than a crib, it should 
aim at conveying the tone and spirit as well as the letter 
of the original. My Welsh friends tell me that the Mabin- 
ogion are, in their native dress, a work of rare and exqui- 
site literary beauty. This beauty, which has passed entire 

4o6 Celtic Alyih and Saga. 

into Lady Guest's version, one of the chief masterpieces of 
prose romantic narrative in the language, has disappeared 
utterly in M. Loth's French translation. We might set this 
down to the marked inferiority of modern French for pur- 
poses of romantic narrative but for the fact that M. de la 
Villemarque has produced a most graceful and charming 
version of some of these tales. It will be said, I know, that 
he contented himself with putting Lady Guest's English 
into French. Perhaps he did. But compare his version of 
Geraint and Enid with that of M. Loth. Nine-tenths of 
the differences are simply stylistic ; they in nowise affect 
our appreciation of the subject-matter, but they do make 
M. Loth's French bald and tedious to an intolerable degree. 
1 most willingly admit the value of many of M. Loth's 
changes, I gladly concede that his version is indispensable 
to the non-Welsh student of the Mabmogion, but surely 
the positive mistakes made by Lady Guest might have 
been corrected ; surely, where her freedom misrepresents the 
original, closeness might have been obtained without sacri- 
ficing every trait of the beauty which those who know the 
original declare it possesses, I trust M. Loth will pardon 
the vivacity of my censure, but to me the Mahinogion are 
one of the most precious heritages of beauty which the past 
has bequeathed to us, and I cannot bear to see this heritage 
sacrificed to a pedantic and, as I believe, mistaken idea 
of the translator's art. 

I now come to Prof Zimmer's studies, a list of and brief 
reference to which will be found in my apologia, printed in 
the Revue Celtique ^ d^nd reprinted FOLK-LORE, vol. ii. It 
is characteristic that the motive-power of these masterly 
investigations should be opposition to what the author 
evidently regards as a false and pestilent heresy, namely 
M. Gaston Paris's hypothesis as to the origin of the French 
Arthurian literature. This the great French scholar 
regarded as the outcome of contact between the Anglo- 
Norman poets and Celtic romance consequent upon the 

1 April 1 89 1. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 407 

Norman conquest of England and settlement in Southern 
Wales. He assumed that the French verse and prose 
romances of the late twelfth century had been preceded 
by shorter Anglo-Normanic narrative poems, akin some- 
what to the lais of Marie de France.^ 

The thesis which, in opposition to M. Gaston Paris, Prof. 
Zimmer set himself to prove is no new one ; it is that the 
French minstrels drew their knowledge of Arthur and his 
warriors not from Wales and Cornwall, but from Brittany. 
But what is new is the convincing way in which it is worked 
out, and the consequences drawn from it. Firstly, the 
formative period of the romance, which was to be elaborated 
later by the French poets, is defined as that during which 
the Bretons were in close political and social contact with 
the Normans (ninth-eleventh centuries), resulting in a 
bilingual zone, to the wandering minstrels of which the 
stories in their present form may often be traced. Secondly, 
the French Arthurian romance is due to the slow elabora- 
tion of tales and lyrics brought with them to Armorica 
by the British emigrants of the sixth-seventh centuries, 
which gradually put off their original quasi-historic char- 
acter, and were profoundly modified by later vicissitudes 
in the national life of the Bretons. Thirdly, after the 
Norman Conquest this specific Breton form of the Arthur 
hero-tales was brought to England and Wales by the 
Breton allies of the Conqueror, and influenced the more 
historic form of these tales which had been preserved by 
the Welsh. Fourthly, the features in which the Breton 
form differs from the Welsh ones must be ascribed to the 
widening of the Breton horizon which follovved the emi- 
gration to the Continent and to the contact with Gallo- 
Frankish civilisation ; such features must be used with 
great caution, if at all, as evidence for Celtic belief and 

I do not think that this brief summary either mis- 

1 The last chapter of Prof. Rhys's Arthurian Studies deals with the 
views of Prof. Zimmer and of M. Gaston Paris. 

4o8 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

represents the results which arise out of rather than are 
definitely stated in Prof. Zimmer's pages, or that it fails to 
mark their importance and interest. Should I not have 
done justice to Prof. Zimmer in these respects it is from 
lack of skill and not of will. Nor should I fail to note 
that the value of his investigations depends only slightly 
upon the correctness of his results. He has cross-examined 
the documents far more searchingly than any previous 
scholar ; he has been indefatigable in ransacking the 
records of the sixth-eleventh centuries with a view to 
providing an historical basis for this or that episode 
of the romances ; he is always ingenious in detail, most 
ingenious perhaps when he is substantially contra- 
dicting himself It will be understood that merits such 
as these cannot be adequately exhibited in the few pages 
at my disposal. Let me then note that much of the 
evidence is philological ; thus, the forms of names in many 
French Arthurian romances are shown to be Breton and not 
Welsh, as is also the case, partly, with Geoffrey of Mon- 
mouth and William of Malmesbury. Prof Zimmer is a 
believer in the Northern locale of the original Arthur-tales, 
and makes ingenious use of the fact that this locale may 
readily be distinguished in the French romances — the 
Bretons, whose historical connection with Britain ceased 
with the seventh century, preserved it better than the Welsh, 
the centre of whose political history was shifted from 
Northern to South-Western Britain, and who gradually 
came to look upon Arthur as a South-Welsh chieftain. 
Welsh literature, even of the oldest class, is shown to be 
comparatively modern in its present form ; for instance, the 
tale of Kulhwch and Olwen, and the Triads of the Horses 
in the Black Book, are shown to allude to post-Conquest 

When the reader frees himself from the avalanche of 
detail under which Prof Zimmer overwhelms him, he is 
apt, however, to ask himself if the result of the German 
scholar's labours is quite what the latter thinks it to be. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 409 

Does his theory ejith'ely exclude that of M. Gaston Paris ? 
Does it bear all the conclusions drawn from it, implicitly 
rather than explicitly, it should be noted ? The French 
verse and prose narrativesof the twelfth century may go back 
exclusively to Breton lais — does this prove that the Arthur 
saga was originally historic in its essence, and that the 
later romantic developments are exclusively Breton. In 
the course of centuries the Breton forms may, indeed must 
have grown differently from the Welsh ones — does that 
prov'e that every specific Breton feature is, if not non- 
Celtic, at least foreign to the original form of the legend ? 
Thus Prof. Zimmer regards the passing of Arthur to 
Avalon as specifically Breton, as foreign to the historical 
spirit of the original Arthur tales. Yet who more than 
Prof Zimmer in his studies on the Brendan legend has 
thrown clearer light upon that Celtic presentment of the 
Otherworld and of the hero's journey thither of which 
the whole Av^alon episode is such an unmistakable variant.'' 
Again, Erec and Lancelot are held to be purely Breton. 
Granted for argument's sake that they do not appear in the 
Welsh record, does that prove that they cannot be elabora- 
tions of old Celtic heroes, that Erec must be derived from 
the sixth-century Visigoth chief of Aquitaine, Euric, or 
Lancelot from the ninth-century Carolingian warrior, Lant- 
bert } 

I should be sorry indeed if Prof. Zimmer had denied 
himself these latter hypotheses ; in working them out 
he forces his readers into by-paths of history which the 
majority would otherwise never tread. But what single 
shred of positive evidence is brought forward in support 
of the equation Lancelot = Lantbert ? Not one. In what 
respect does the equation explain the story we find in the 
twelfth-century French poets ? In no single one. Accept 
every assertion of Prof Zimmer's, and we are as far as 
ever from realising the nature of the Lancelot episode. 
For that we must turn to the scholar of whom Prof. Zim- 

4IO Celtic Myth and Saga. 

mer speaks with an arrogance it is charitable to treat 
humorously, to M. Gaston Paris.^ 

Nowhere does Prof. Zimmer explicitly state that Brit- 
tany, open to every wind of influence, was closed to even 
a breath from the older Celtdom of the British Isles. But 
this is implied in numberless turns of argument, which, 
without this implication, lose all point. Yet he himself has 
furnished the strongest argument against this view. In 
his progress through the Arthurian Walhalla he encoun- 
ters Tristan. The traditional view of this hero is known 
to all — nephew of the fifth-sixth century Cornish kinglet, 
Mark, rescuer of his land from the tribute laid upon it by 
the Irish, wooer of the Irish princess Iseult for his uncle, 
and, as her lover, the most famous exemplar of over- 
mastering passion in all literature. 

But Prof Zimmer points out that the name of Tristan 
himself and of his father (Talhwch in the Welsh tradition) 
are Pictish, and that whilst we know of no Picts in fifth- 
sixth century Cornwall, we do know of several historical 
Drests and Drestans and Talorcs in eighth-ninth cen- 
tury Pictland, i.e., roughly speaking, North-East Scotland ; 
moreover, the names of Iseult and of her kinsmen are 
Teutonic, and whilst there can have been no Teutonic 
dwellers in fifth-century Ireland, Ireland in the ninth and 
tenth centuries was largely occupied by Norse and Danish 
Vikings. History again, silent respecting any fifth-century 
wars between Ireland and Cornwall, has preserved a full 
record of several raids into Pictland made by the Danish 
Vikings and of the tribute they levied. Prof. Zimmer 
reasons that the historical basis of the Tristan story is 
furnished by the exploits of a ninth-century Pictish hero 
who signalised himself in the wars against the Dublin 
Vikings. He conjectures that the story first became 
known in South Britain after the Conqueror's expedition 
against Malcolm in 1072, was disseminated through South 
Wales in the expeditions of 1072 and 1081, passed into 

^ Romania, vol. x. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 4 1 1 

Brittany, where it was profoundly modified, Tristan being 
provided with a Breton parentage and home, and where 
in all probability it was worked into the Arthur saga. 

Such is a very bare summary of this brilliant and fasci- 
nating hypothesis. I must leave the criticism of it to 
those who are more familiar than I am with the oldest 
French forms of the Tristan story. I would merely note 
that evidence, which Prof. Zimmer himself quotes, shows 
that the saga must have been current in Wales before 
108 1, and probably before 1072. Moreover, that no light 
is thrown upon the curious Welsh traditions concerning 
Tristan, traditions which cannot either be explained from 
the French romances. But let us accept his results and 
see what bearing they have upon his general theory of the 
Arthurian romance. Here is a story, originating in these 
islands, unknown in Brittany before the close of the 
eleventh century, and yet the oldest French forms are 
Breton in locale and characterisation of the personages. 
What reliance then can be placed upon Breton traits in 
other branches of the romances as evidence of their spe- 
cific Breton and non-insular origin .'' What has happened 
once may have happened more than once — the early spe- 
cific Breton lais to which Prof. Zimmer traces back the 
French romances may be, as he himself claims that the 
Tristan lais are, mere Bretonised variants of insular 

Thus whilst admitting in a very large measure the 
validity of Prof Zimmer's claims on behalf of the Breton 
element in the formation of the Arthurian romance, I 
cannot but think that he has often misinterpreted the 
nature of that element, that he has exaggerated the con- 
sequences to be drawn from the facts he has stated, and 
that he has unduly depreciated the influence of the insular 
element. Be this, however, as it may, the services he has 
rendered to the study of the cycle are of extreme value, 
and for years to come his investigations must form the 
basis of further research. 

412 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

It is interesting to pass from Prof. Zimmer to Prof. Rhys. 
No two scholars could be well more unlike in certain 
respects ; both are equally penetrating and suggestive, in 
both, not infrequently, their very ingenuity makes them bad 
guides for the layman. The German, as he himself says, 
has a horror of the mazy whirlings of comparative myth- 
ology ; no one threads these mazes with greater boldness 
or delight than the Welshman. The German is anxious to 
place every text, and every line of every text, and every 
word of every line, in its precise historical environment ; 
it is often impossible to glean from the Welshman any 
opinion concerning the origin and date of composition of 
the text upon which he relies. It cannot be denied that 
by the historical method alone can we ultimately hope to 
gain a clear and orderly view of Celtic mythic literature as 
a whole, but when we have reached that view it will be 
found, t believe, that Prof Rhys has often penetrated to 
the heart of the subject by a process that looks like guess- 
work, chiefly because the results only, and not the steps, 
are exhibited to us. In the Oxford professor's ArtJmrian 
Studies the defects of his method are more apparent than 
in any other of his works. In his Hibbert Lectures he 
relied largely upon the early Irish sagas and upon the non- 
Arthurian Mabinogion, which bring their archaic credentials, 
so to say, with them ; in the present volume he uses the 
Arthurian Welsh tales, the sixth-thirteenth century Welsh 
poetry, and the Welsh triadic literature. Discussion is 
still rife respecting the origin and nature of these three 
groups of texts ; the least, it would seem, we had a right to 
expect from perhaps the only man who can give a sound 
guess at what much of the early Welsh poetry means, is 
that he should state a working theory respecting this and 
the other literature upon which he bases his arguments. 
As if to complete the reader's dissatisfaction, he is told 
in the preface that " many things would have been 
handled differently had Prof Zimmer's studies appeared 
earlier". What things ? Possibly some of the points 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 413 

upon which the author has lavished most ingenuity and 

It is natural that this candour on Prof. Rhys's part 
should have greatly disconcerted his critics, and that 
practically his work should have been put on one side. 
Yet I am convinced that never have a larger number of 
pregnant suggestions with regard to the Arthurian romance 
been brought together than in these pages. But it requires 
a trained and critical spirit to turn them to account. As 
it is impossible to criticise any of Prof. Rhys's theories 
without going into those questions of date and origin of 
documents which he passes over almost entirely, I propose 
to show how others have dealt with these questions, and 
then to note the relation of Prof Rhys's views to their 

Prof Zimmer, we have seen, is concerned with the 
immediate rather than with the ultimate origin of the 
French Arthurian literature ; as regards the Wetsk Arthu- 
rian texts he is content to show that many of them cannot 
have been written, as we possess them, before the twelfth 
century. In respect of the old Welsh poetry nothing has 
been done by way of criticism, nothing, outside Prof 
Rhys's studies, by way of exegesis. In respect of the 
Mabinogion proper nothing fresh has been done in so 
far as they interest the folk-lorist. It is in respect of the 
Arthurian Welsh tales that criticism has been active, 
especially in respect of the three which are undoubtedly 
connected in some way with the poems of Crestien de 
Troies. In my last report I noted Herr Othmer's attempt to 
prove that the tale of Geraint and Enid is a mere abridged 
translation of the Frenchman's Erec. Since then M. 
Gaston Paris has gone over the same ground {Romania, 
Oct. 1891), and has shown most convincingly that Herr 
Othmer is wrong, and that the Welsh tale frequently 
represents a more archaic stage of the story than the 
French poem. Herr Golther has endeavoured to traverse 
M. Paris's conclusions, but has merely succeeded in showing 

414 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

how difficult it is for some scholars to retreat from a posi- 
tion they have once taken up. 

An unexpected contribution has been made to the 
Peredur question by a young German scholar, Dr. Paul 
Hagen, writing in Gerrnania. Readers of my Grail legend 
may recollect that I claimed this Welsh tale as representing, 
in part, a purer version of one of the motifs worked into 
the Conte del Graal of Crestien de Troies, but contaminated 
with incidents and passages derived from that poem. For 
this I was taken to task by Dr. Golther, who asserted the 
entire dependence of the Welsh tale upon the French 
poem. I may fairly claim to have disproved this assertion,^ 
which is indeed absolutely untenable. Dr. Hagen brings 
forward fresh arguments in disproof of Dr. Golther's 
theory, and is indeed quite at one with me respecting the 
anteriority of the Welsh tale. But according to him it is 
the homogeneous adaptation of a pre-Crestien French work 
based upon Breton lais and prose tales, which also served 
as the main source both of Crestien and of the lost French 
original of Wolfram von Eschenbach. The difficulty lies, 
it will be seen, in the fact that Welsh and French texts 
have features in common which point to a definite literary 
connection. I explain these features as due to the 
influence of the French poem upon an already existing 
Welsh tale ; Dr. Hagen, as due to derivation from a 
common original. I fully see the difficulties of my ex- 
planation, and I grant that Dr. Hagen has criticised it 
acutely and vigorously. But destructive criticism is no- 
where easier than in dealing with this inextricably tangled 
literature. The difficulty is to construct a theory that will 
fairly fit the facts. Has Dr. Hagen fully reasoned out his 
theory ? I doubt it. We both agree that the Welsh tale 
must belong to an earlier stage than the French poem, 
because it gives in orderly and coherent sequence incidents 
of which a shadowy jumble is all that exists in French. 

1 In the already cited article, Revue Cel/igue, April 1891 ; FOLK- 
LORE, June 189!. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 4 1 5 

From this jumble, as we find it in Crestien and his con- 
tinuators, we can pick out a story akin to, but not identical 
with that in the Welsh work. But if Crestien had the 
hypothetical original of Peredur before him, how comes his 
own narrative to be so confused and unintelligible ; how is 
it in especial that his continuators go off on half-a-dozen 
different tracks ? Did they know nothing of this original ? 
If not, how comes it that portions of it are to be recovered 
from them alone, there being nothing in Crestien's portion 
of the Conte del Graal that could give rise to them ? More- 
over, the Welsh tale contains incidents (to one of w^hich 
the only known parallel is in the eighth-ninth century 
Irish Voyage of Mael Duin) which are absolutely unknown 
to any existing French romance. Would this be the case 
if it represented the original of such a famous work as the 
Conte del Graal f I sincerely welcome Dr. Hagen as a 
fellow-worker in this obscure field of literary history, but I 
cannot admit that he has convinced me as yet, and I still 
hold to my explanation of the Peredur problem, namely, 
that the Welsh tale is in the main the oldest extant form 
of the Perceval story, but that, as it has come down to us, 
it is comparatively late (say 1230- so), and has been in- 
fluenced by the writings of the leading European poet of 
the twelfth century. 

Now how does Prof Rhys stand with regard to these 
questions ? He analyses the stories of Owain and Peredur 
minutely (chapters iv, v), and resolves them into variant 
versions of a nature-myth, an Irish analogue to which he 
finds in the dealings of Cuchulainn with the Morrigu. But 
to do this he is obliged to have recourse to considerable 
modification of the stories in their present form, and he 
justifies such modification on the ground that the Welsh 
versions have been influenced by the French ones. In so 
far he countenances those who contend for the secondary 
nature of these two Welsh tales. But it will be admitted, 
I think, that it is perilous in the extreme to postulate 
modification save when it is vouched for by positive and 

4 1 6 Celtic Myth ana Saga. 

unmistakable facts, and to rely upon any mythological 
theory that does not arise naturally and unforcedly out of 
the documents. In this case too, the myth, as reconstructed 
by Prof. Rhys, is open to grave objection from the side 
of the orthodox nature-mythologists. Prof Rhys has 
further embarrassed himself by what I cannot but regard 
as a wholly chimerical attempt to equate the Lancelot 
story, as we find it in Crestien, with his hypothetical Peredur- 
Owain story. I would further urge that the endeavour 
to find, not a Celtic basis, but a basis in the existing 
scanty remains of Celtic literature for all the leading 
situations and motifs in the gigantic mass of French 
Arthurian literature must necessarily result in strained 
interpretation. It can hardly be doubted that we do not 
possess even one tithe of the Brythonic story-hoard. It 
would be an amazing coincidence if all that is Celtic in the 
French Arthurian romances went back precisely to that 
tithe. Yet I for one cannot regret that Prof Rhys should 
have apparently acted upon this coincidence theory ; it has 
led him to strain every nerve to identify stories which I 
believe to have little in common, but in so doing he has 
accumulated such a number of interesting and indubitable 
minor parallels between the person- and place-names of 
genuine Welsh tradition and those of French Arthurian 
romance as to place the Brythonic origin of the latter 
beyond all possibility of doubt. 

Prof Rhys is largely concerned with the Grail. Here 
he is supplemented by Prof Heinzel of Vienna, whose 
work, quoted at the head of this article, is by far the most 
searching, minute, and erudite examination of the French 
Grail romances that has yet appeared. Prof Heinzel 
displays in this work all that penetration, that sanity, 
and that rigorously scientific method that have won him so 
much credit in the field of Teutonic mythology and saga. 
Those who are familiar with his previous researches will 
know that any opinion of his is entitled to the most 
respectful consideration. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 417 

Now Prof. Heinzel's work is revolutionary. To make 
this plain I must hark back a little. In common with 
all previous investigators I recognised two main sections 
of the Grail story, one dealing with its early history in the 
East and with its passage to Britain, the other with its 
Quest. Of the Quest I distinguished two forms, one 
having Perceval, the other Galahad for its hero. I urged 
that the Quest section is the older of the two, and of the 
Quest section the Perceval form. For me Crestien's portion 
of the Conte del Graal was not only the oldest existing 
text of the whole cycle, but the oldest French version of 
any part of it. For me the Galahad forms of the Quest 
were not only younger than, but arose directly out of the 
Perceval ones. Such criticism as I received — e.g., from M. 
Muretin Mi^/usme — was for having attached so much import- 
ance as I did to the Galahad forms, or, e.g., from Dr. Golther, 
for not having more clearly recognised that Crestien was 
the fo;is ct origo of all the other Quest forms. What says 
Prof Heinzel ? That the Early History is really the 
oldest part of the legend which was originally one of the 
conversion of Britain, that the Quest is an afterthought, that 
Galahad was the first hero of the Quest, that Crestien's 
version presupposes a narrative akin to that found in the 
Queste del St. Graal and in Robert de Borron's Joseph, and 
that the contamination of the original purely Christian 
legend with Celtic fairy-tale incidents was probably begun 
in Crestien's source, and was further carried on by the 
great French poet. 

Having, in common with all other investigators, recog- 
nised the Perceval story as the kernel of the Grail legend, 
I had little difficulty in proving its essentially Celtic nature. 
Prof Heinzel does not challenge my proof; he merely 
contends that I deal, not with the real Grail legend, but 
with late and comparatively speaking unimportant accre- 
tions to it. 

Results such as these, which conflict with those of all 
previous investigators, may fairly be described as revolu- 


4i8 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

tionary. They presuppose that in a vast body of literature 
the oldest existing text really belongs to almost the latest 
stage of development ; that the later texts, although un- 
noticed anywhere, must really have existed in some form 
long previously ; and that in the twelfth century a purely 
Christian subject was almost entirely de-Christianised, 
precisely in the actual oldest but hypothetically youngest 
text, whilst the later ones, hitherto regarded as later in 
origin as well as in date of composition, show a steadily 
increasing Christian element. 

I cannot criticise these views in detail. An indispensable 
preliminary is a methodical re-examination of the entire 
Grail literature, and the testing of every point urged by 
Prof Heinzel.^ Until I have been able to do this I prefer 
simply to direct the attention of all students to his work. 
I may, however, note one or two points. Prof Heinzel 
confines himself to the French romances ; neither the 
Peredur, nor the English Sir Perceval, nor Wolfram's 
version is examined with any thoroughness. Yet it is 
precisely from these outside versions that light is, I believe, 
to be obtained respecting the early form of the legend. 
Prof Heinzel confirms indirectly, but in the strongest way, 
my contention that the Early History of the Grail, being 
as it is a conversion of Britain legend, is essentially a 
British product. Though we only possess it in a French 
dress, it must have originated and been developed in 

Turn we now to Prof Rhys's Grail studies. I had 
busied myself exclusively with establishing the Celtic 
nature of the Perceval portion of the legend, deeming, as I 
did, the Galahad portion to be derived and secondary. 

^ Prof. Heinzel's method of presenting his results is stimulating 
but arduous. He examines each version by itself, so that one has to 
consider some twenty pieces of independent investigation, to determine 
for oneself their relation to each other, and then to recheck the whole 
by the texts. I may add that one has to make one's own index and 
analytical summary. 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 419 

But it is from the Galahad portion that Prof. Rhys chiefly 
draws his parallels to Welsh tradition. The importance of 
this for the Celtic origin of the legend is, in view of Prof 
Heinzel's conclusions, obvious. Even if the latter is right, 
and if the most Christianised and apparently latest portion 
of the legend is in reality the oldest, there are still Prof. 
Rhys's parallels to be reckoned with. 

I may say that renewed familiarity with Malory, due to 
a careful study of Dr. Sommer's third volume, had pre- 
viously convinced me that I had unduly neglected the 
Galahad portion of the legend. From this, however, to 
accepting the position definitely stated by Prof. Heinzel, 
and practically taken up (in complete independence of 
Prof Heinzel's researches) by Prof Rhys, is a wide step, 
and one which I doubt I shall ever take. But, for reasons 
already given, I defer any definite statement of my views 
for the present. 

As regards Prof. Rhys in particular, I must confess my 
scepticism respecting the myth he has wrung out of the 
romances. The point is worth detailed examination, both 
as exemplifying the methods of Professors Heinzel and 
Rhys, and the fascinating obscurity of the Grail problem. 
Great stress is laid in nearly all versions of the legend 
upon the effect produced upon a particular country (some- 
times England, sometimes an undetermined district) either 
by the success of the Grail Quester, or by his failure at 
first. The effect is either, definitely, the restoration of the 
land to fertility, or, indefinitely, the removal of enchant- 
ments that lay upon it. In some versions the waste con- 
dition of the land is apparently only due to the first failure 
of the Grail Quester to achieve success, in the majority it 
is the result of previous conflict between personages who 
are in general related to the Grail Quester, This second 
form is commonly known as the "Dolorous Stroke", and 
a variant version of the incident is found in Arthurian 
romance in the story of Balin and Balan, entirely discon- 
nected with the Grail legend. Prof Rhys equates the 

E E 2 

420 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

whole with incidents detailed in the Mabinogion of Pwyll 
and of Manawyddan. We have here a conflict between 
Pwyll, Pryderi, and Manawyddan on the one hand, and 
Gwawl son of Clud and Llwyd son of Kil-coed on the 
other. Pwyll had played upon Gwawl the trick of the 
badger in the bag ; this is avenged by Llwyd, who brings 
desolation upon the land of Pryderi, Pwyll's son, but 
Llwyd is finally baffled by Manawyddan, who undoes all 
his spells. 

Prof Rhys is compelled to assume that his Brythonic 
mythologists took the wrong side, mythologically speaking. 
For his Gwawl and Llwyd are divinities of light, his Pwyll 
and Manawyddan dark divinities. To cite his own sum- 
ming up of the myth, " this sequence carries with it the 
reversal of the true meaning of the action of the respective 
parties in the struggle. For the appearance of the realm 
as a wilderness is its true aspect, with its hideousness 
exposed in the light of Llwyd's triumphing countenance. 
The removal of the Enchantment, so as to make the 
landscape seem to teem again with life and abundance, is 
more truly to put the Enchantment on it. It is, in a word, 
to bring on the glamour and illusion which are essential to 
the magnificence in which the King of the Otherworld 

I can understand such a simple myth as that which pic- 
tures the sun-hero dispelling the glamour of night, and 
I believe that in the visit of the Grail Ouester to the 
Magic Castle we have a late and romanticised version of 
such a myth. But I am not prepared to go further. 

How does Prof, Heinzel deal with this element in the 
romance ? The legend has its origin, for him, in an account 
of the conversion of Britain by certain personages of the 
Apostolic age bringing with them relics of Christ. These 
are kept by the first Grail possessor for his future successor, 
son or grandson, who is to make himself known by putting 
certain questions. But this was too simple for the romance 
writers, who started the idea of making the Grail Ouester 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 421 

omit the questions at first. Meanwhile the original Grail 
possessor had become known as the Fisher King, an 
epithet due entirely to Christian symbolism. But the 
name being misunderstood, it was assumed that he fished 
because he was ill. Hence arose the idea of the first Grail 
possessor, to be cured by the questions put by the last 
Grail possessor, the hero of the Grail Quest. The idea of 
illness was further intensified by that of great age, due to 
the interpolation of a long row of kings between the first 
and last Grail possessors. To account for the illness the 
Grail king was supposed to have been wounded. So far 
the development need not presuppose any foreign element. 
But Prof Heinzel admits that at this stage such a foreign 
element was brought into the legend in the shape of a 
story telling how the murder of a hero's kinsman brought 
desolation upon his land, desolation which could only be 
removed when the hero had wrought vengeance upon his 
kinsman's slayer. This unnamed hero was identified with 
the Grail Quester, the wounded kinsman with the Grail 
king, and the narrative assumed such shape as we find in 
the present romances. 

It is sufficient to note that Prof Heinzel, who maintains 
so strongly the essential Christian nature of the Grail 
legend, is constrained to recognise that an important and 
obviously archaic incident owes nothing to Christian 
sources. It seems to me that differ between themselves 
as do Professors Rhys and Heinzel, and differ as both do 
from my printed conclusions, yet there is at bottom con- 
siderable agreement between us, testifying to the essentially 
Celtic nature of the most archaic portions of the Grail cycle. 

I must briefly notice Prof Heinzel's explanation of the 
name of Bron, the first Grail keeper in Robert de Borron. 
Among the companions of Joseph was the Veronica, 
the owner of the portrait of Christ. Early Christian 
legend made of her a Phoenician Mary, in P"rcnch, 
Marie la Venissienne, a corrupt form of which, M. 
YAnJuicienne, originated the name Enygeus, Eniseus, 

42 2 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

given to Joseph's sister and Bron's wife. Her other 
appellation, inulier Veronica, was taken as "femme d'Ebron", 
whence by misinterpretation "femme de Bron", and she was 
thus provided with a husband named Bron (or, in some 
texts, Hebron). This Bron probably represents Nicodemus, 
who is connected with the evangelisation of Britain, though 
indirectly, by the early knowledge in this country of the 
apocryphal gospel devoted to him, and who plays a part in 
the oldest texts of the Early History section of the Grail 

Prof Heinzel is at some pains to demonstrate that this 
discovery ruins my theory of the relation between Bron 
and Bran the Blessed of Welsh tradition. But I submit 
that all depends upon the date of the process he assumes. 
This must be much older than Robert de Borron (end of 
twelfth century), seeing that Robert mentions Enygeus, 
the Veronica, and Mary the Egyptian as three distinct 
personages, clear proof that the corruption which Prof 
Heinzel thinks he has detected was then of old standing. 
Moreover, Prof Heinzel conjectures that the epithet 
" blessed" assigned to the Welsh Bran may be due to the 
Bron story. If this is so it is another proof that Bron 
must be much older than Robert de Borron. For Robert's 
version of the Grail legend is entirely unknown in Wales, 
and the two French Grail romances translated into Welsh 
(the Queste, and the prose Perlcsvans) know nothing of 
Bron and of his companions. Moreover, the mere simi- 
larity of name between Bron and Bran can hardly be 
deemed sufficient ground for the Welsh story-tellers to 
have decorated their old god (for such Bran is — his legend, 
save for this possible epithet, is absolutely untouched by 
Christianity) with a standing epithet derived from the 
Christian missionary. There must have been some simi- 
larity of attribute or condition, more than which I have 
never postulated. Indeed, I think that the epithet (pre- 
Christian in Bran's case) is the first and only link between 
the two personages. In any case Prof. Heinzel's theory 

Celtic Myth and Saga. 423 

throws back Bron considerably, and enhances his import- 
ance in the conversion of Britain legend, thus, to my 
mind, confirming rather than invaHdating my hypothesis 
of an early confusion between Bron and Bran as one of 
the chief factors in the genesis of the Grail legend. 

One point is well brought out in Prof Rhys's studies, 
the close connection between Brythonic and Gaelic romance. 
Many of his most suggestive parallels involve Irish or 
North-Scotch influence upon the Arthurian romances. 
This is a theory I have always steadily advocated in these 
pages, and I am glad to find that such a cautious scholar 
as Mons. Gaidoz gives it the full weight of his support in 
a recent number of Melusine. 

At the back of all the questions connected with the 
assumed mythological texts of the Welsh and Bretons 
lies that of the condition of Britain during and immedi- 
ately after the Roman occupation. M. Loth has striven to 
elucidate this by an examination of the words which the 
Brythonic languages have borrowed from Latin. His con- 
clusions are most interesting. He maintains that outside 
a line drawn between Caerleon on Usk and York, passing 
by Chester, Roman influence was but little felt, that the 
Welsh laws of the tenth century in which the social 
organisation is still tribal, in which legal theory is still 
based upon composition, represent an unbroken tradition 
reaching back to pre-Roman times. Only in respect of 
the class of villeins (Jaeog) do Roman ideas make them- 
selves felt ; taeog organisation is obviously based upon that 
applied to the Roman colonus. 

Considering the totality of Latin loan-words, M. Loth 
shows that material life among the pre-Roman Britains 
was rudimentary, all terms relating to building and 
domestic industry being borrowed ; family life was probably 
communistic, as the words for " husband" and " wife" are 
borrowed ; the medium of exchange was cattle, the Breton 
term for which is a loan from the Latin soldiis; terms 
relating to reading and writing are borrowed, but those 

424 Celtic Myth and Saga. 

relating to poetry and music are purely Celtic ; little has 
been borrowed in the domain of political organisation, 
Welsh legal terminology in particular, which is singularly 
rich and precise, being almost untouched by Latin 
influence. If I mistake not, nothing in M. Loth's results 
stands in the way of our believing that the Brythons, 
whether in England or Brittany, retained many fragments 
of their pre-Christian beliefs, which fragments have been 
preserved to us partly by purely Welsh tales and poems, 
partly by French adaptations of Brythonic stories, derived 
mostly, though probably not entirely, from Brittany. The 
mythology which we can reconstruct from these fragments 
stands in as close relation to that of the Irish Gaels as do 
the Welsh and Irish laws. 

Critical questions have occupied the larger part of this 
report. But this is a sign that the study of Celtic antiquity 
has definitely entered a new and fruitful stage. Publi- 
cation has advanced sufficiently to give scholars a fair 
basis to build upon, but the perfect building cannot be 
expected just yet. One thing is certain. Some respect- 
able traditional views may have to vanish. But free 
criticism will enhance and not diminish the value of what 
remains to us of Celtic thought and fancy. Nor will it, 
I believe, do other than confirm the theory that the beliefs 
and practices and sayings of pre-Christian Celtdom are 
largely represented both in pre-mediaeval and mediaeval 
Celtic literature, and in the folk-lore of the living Celtic- 
speaking peoples. 

Alfred Nutt. 


Grundriss der germanischen Philologie, hrsg. 
von H. Paul. Vol. II, Part II, Section 6: Uebersicht 
iiber die aus miindlicher Ueberlieferung geschopften 
Sammlungen der Volkspoesie {a) Skandinavische Volks- 
poesie, von A. Lundell. 

Paul's Grundriss is nearing conclusion, and the last pages 
of the work, much of which has direct interest for folk-lorists, 
are devoted to folk-lore as such. Lundell's account of Scan- 
dinavian folk-lore research is not completed in the present 
section : what is given is of extreme interest to all students 
of our science. Scandinavia, indeed, led the way in the 
organisation and prosecution of folk-lore studies. How 
many folk-lorists are aware that in the year 1630 the 
Swedish State-antiquaries were officially instructed to 
collect " old chronicles, histories, immemorial traditions, 
and ballads about dragons, great worms, dwarves, giants, 
tales about celebrated persons, old monasteries, castles and 
their former kings, hero-songs and rhymed ballads, as well 
music as words" ? Nearly two centuries went by before such 
liberal and intelligent instructions were given by any other 

Portions of Paul's Grundriss have already been noticed 
in these pages (Prof York Powell's article on " Teutonic 
Myth and Saga", supra, i, 118). We hope before long to 
notice Dr. Mogk's Mythologie, the only existing survey of 
Teutonic mythology which starts from a folk-lore basis. 
In the meantime I may briefly indicate the importance of 
the work as a whole to the folk-lorist. The student of 
ballads or tales is being perpetually brought into contact 
with the productions of literature proper ; the student of 

426 Review. 

customs must ever take note of legal antiquities and of 
social life as pictured in literature ; the student of folk- 
speech must take account of the sure results reached by- 
philological research. No one can hope to be a specialist 
in all these subjects ; what is needed is a business-like 
exposition of specialist investigations, a clear statement of 
those results which are practically assured, a full and 
trustworthy guide to the literature connected with each 
subject. This need is admirably met by PmiPs Grwidriss, 
and the work should be in the hands of every student. 



To the Editor of FOLK-LORE. 

Sir, — Certain farms in the west of Shropshire stand on 
the site of an old deer-park, and are bounded in part 
by the old park fence. The ditch is inside the fence, yet 
the obligation of keeping the fence in repair rests with the 
owner of the land within it, that is to say, of the former deer- 
park ; not, as usual, with the owner of the land next to 
which the fence is placed. It is locally believed that the 
ownership of the deer-park carries with it the right to cut 
timber for the repair of the fence for a space of five yards 
from the outside of the boundary, which is called tJic rigJit 
of the buck's leap, and has, it is said, been exercised within 
the memory of man. 

Further. Between Wrottesley Park in Staffordshire and 
the adjacent Manor of Pattingham lies a belt of grassy 
land, a sort of green lane, leading to nowhere in particular, 
and called the Deerleap. The park, in which red deer 
were kept till the reign of Charles II, was emparked by 
royal licence granted to Sir Hugh de Wrottesley during the 
siege of Calais by Edward III. But the name of the 
Deerleap is far older than this, as it occurs twice in a record 
of the boundaries of Wrottesley in the first year of William 
Rufus (1088), first as " Deerspring", then as " Deer length", 
thus : " Hjec terra Wroteslea habet duas hidas. Hiis 
terminis circumcincta est. Sprynewall in Smeleheth, of 
Smeleheth in Dersprynge, of dersprynth in Caldewell," 
etc. " Et notra ubi ista prepositio ' of dicitur, nichill 
aliud significatur nisi ' fro',' as, fro' Spryne-wall to Smele- 

428 Correspondence. 

heth, fro Smelehethe to derslenthe — to Caldewell, et sic dc 

But General Wrottesley, from whom I have these par- 
ticulars, is not aware of any supposed right of cutting 
timber in the Deerleap. 

My brother informs me, on the authority of Mr. L. C. 
Cholmely, who formerly resided near Richmond Park, that 
round the park the Crown claims the land for 16 feet (about 
5 yards) outside the fence, and that the adjoining owners 
recognise the claim, and pay rent for the strip as yearly 

These three instances of boundary privileges, as I may 
call them, seem to take us back to a very early stage in the 
history of village settlements, and of private property in 
land. I shall be glad to hear if anyone else can furnish 
similar instances, or corroborative details. The name " the 
Buck's Leap" evidently signifies the width of land a deer 
could leap over, and may be compared, as a measurement, 
with such phrases as " a bowshot-length", and " a stone's 
cast." It must not be confounded with the saltatoriuvi , or 
chartered deer-leap, such as may still be seen in Wolseley 
Park, Staffordshire, which was a low part of the fence so 
constructed that the deer from the forest could leap into the 
park but not back again. 

^ Printed in the William Salt Archaological Collections, vol. ii, p. 
183. The MS. is a 14th century copy of the original of the ist year of 
William II, hence the repetition, and the explanation that "of" means 
" from". 

Charlotte S. Burne. 

Corresi)ondence. 429 


To the Editor ^/ FOLK- Lore. 

Sir, — Allow me to say, in regard to the concluding re- 
marks of Professor John Rhys in the June number, that 
some of my words had not been correctly reported — 
especially those on the Flat-foot Question. On receiving 
the March number, I at once wrote, as you remember, to 
express regret at this fact. 

1 will not take up space by setting right three or four 
errors of reporting, which do not concern the present 
subject. What I said on December 9th, before the 
Society, was this : — 

" As to the instep, I can speak from personal expe- 
rience. Almost every German in this country — that is 
what I have often heard — finds that an English shoemaker 
makes his boots not high enough in the instep. It is a 
usual complaint of Germans in England. I don't know 
but it may be that some northern Germanic tribe had per- 
haps slightly flatter feet than Germans in general." 

This, it will be seen, is very different from what I was 
made to say in the report. I did not assert that there was 
a difference, in this respect, between northern and southern 
Germans. In using the words, " may be that some 
northern Germanic tribe had perhaps slightly flatter feet 
than Germans in general," and guarding even this by, " I 
don't know," I carefully avoided any such general state- 
ment as has been attributed to me. 

I had in my mind the idea that possibly some northern 
Teutonic tribe (either German or Scandinavian), which was 
mainly a seafaring one, had developed slightly flatter feet, 
though I would not say for a certainty that such must be 
the result of that exclusive occupation. Still, that is a 
point which might be investigated. 

Historically, it is well known that the Germans, from the 

430 Correspondence. 

time of the Teutonic and Kimbrian invasion into Gaul and 
Italy, had no lack of athletic springiness and nimbleness of 
foot. Their performances were the wonder of the Romans, 
who were astounded to see Teutoboch, or Teutobod, jump 
over six horses. The dangerous sword- and spear-dances 
of the Germans, performed by their youth in a state of 
nakedness ; the extraordinary swiftness of their foot 
warriors {yelocitas pedituni), which Tacitus also mentions ; 
and their manifold gymnastic exercises during the Middle 
Ages — not to speak of our present Turn- Vereine in North 
and South — forbid the notion of flat-footedness being a 
Teutonic characteristic at all. 

Professor John Rhys, on his part, says : — " Nobody now 
regards the bulk of the South Germans as of the same race 
as the tall, light-haired people of North Germany, or the 
Teutonic element of a somewhat similar type in this 
country." This sweeping assertion wants a great deal of 
modification. Compared with the North, the South of 
Germany shows, no doubt, a greater percentage of men of 
middle height, with brown hair and dark eyes. The 
explanation is to be found partly in some remnants of 
Rhaetian, Keltic, and Roman population, which became 
blended with their German conquerors ; partly in later 
invasions and wars, which also left their mark. 

Yet, take even a country like Bavaria — the largest, next 
to German Austria, in the southof our Fatherland. There, 
the statistics drawn up in all the schools, in accordance 
with Professor Virchow's suggestion, show that in Bavaria 
there are 66 per cent, of grey or blue eyes, and only 34 of 
brown ones ; 54 per cent, of fair hair, 41 of brown, and only 
5 per cent, of black, hair ; 85 per cent, of white-skinned 
and only 15 per cent, of somewhat brownish-skinned, 
people. In these statistics, I need not say, the Jews are 
also included, who in Germany are more numerous than in 
any other European country, Russia excepted. 

Again, in the coloured maps I have before me — and the 
communication of which, when they came out some years 

Correspondence. 43 1 

ago, I owed to Professor Virchow's kindness — it is seen 
that whole northern, but also some parts of southern 
Bavaria contain an overwhelming proportion of clear- 
eyed and fair-haired people ; some parts up to seventy-five 
per cent, of grey and blue eyes. Even the Bavarian 
Palatinate, which lies next to the French frontier, is blue 
and grey-eyed, in its various districts, to the extent of 59 to 
66 per cent. ; fair-haired from 53 to 64 per cent. ; white- 
skinned from 80 to 91 per cent. 

In other parts of Southern Germany there are large 
patches of territory in which the mass of the people are 
clear-eyed and fair-haired, alternating with patches of 
different characteristics. Sometimes the plain and the 
mountain form the line of division ; the darker aboriginal 
natives having been driven on to the hills. This is a sub- 
ject on which it is difficult to say all that might be 
desirable in the space of a letter. 

I am afraid there is here and there a curious tendency, 
among some learned men, of crowding out the Teuton in a 
manner scarcely consistent with careful research. I will 
not treat here on the Fenian or Fianna Question in Ireland, 
on which a mass of evidence could be given on the Germanic 
side, which cannot be lightly dismissed. I was rather 
startled when finding in Professor Rhys's Celtic Britain a 
note, headed " Belgae", with this curt sentence : — " Nor is 
there any reason to suppose that the Belgae were Teutons." 

Yet Caisar, who fought the Belgians ; who knew them ; 
who had them interviewed ; who heard their own state- 
ments through interpreters, declares plainly that " most of 
the Belgians had sprung from the Germans, having crossed 
the Rhine in olden times, settled in the country on account 
of its fertility, and driven out the Gauls" (" Sic reperie- 
bat : plerosque Belgas esse ortos a Germanis, Rhenumque 
antiquitus transductos, propter loci fertilitatis ibi consedisse ; 
Gallosquc, qui ea loca incolerent, expulisse"). 

The result of this German conquest may be seen to the 
present day. Nearly two-thirds of the Belgians belong to 

432 Correspondence. 

the Low-German stem, and speak the Flemish language, 
which they themselves call Neder-duitscJi (Low-German) — 
a tongue closely kindred to, and well-nigh identical w^ith, 

Now, is it right, in speaking of the origin of the Belgians 
of old, simply to pass by the striking and decisive passage 
in Caesar ? Or did Professor Rhys not know it ? The 
omission seems to me all the more strange as he acknow- 
ledges " the truth of the tradition reported by Cssar, that 
Belgic tribes had made themselves a home in the south of 
the island" — that is, of Britain — long before Jutes, Frisians, 
Angles, and Saxons conquered this country. In Ireland, 
again, as early as the first part of the second century, 
Ptolemaios mentions a Belgian and an undoubtedly 
German tribe in the neighbourhood of Dublin. 

I mention this with all due respect to a distinguished 
Keltic scholar, whose papers on " Manx Folk-lore and 
Superstitions" I have heard and read with much interest. 
But being accustomed — I may say without fear of contradic- 
tion — to investigate all such matters without undue bias, 
I avow I cannot understand why, in this case, the things 
which are Caesar's were not rendered unto Caesar. 

Karl Blind. 

June 19. 


Among the articles of the next number will be the 
concluding article of the Hon. J. Abercromby on " Magic 
Songs of the Finns"; an article by Mr. W. H. D. Rouse 
on "The First of May"; and on Mr. Gomme's "Ethno- 
logy in Folk-lore", by Mr. Joseph Jacobs. The further 
returns on " First-Foot" are also held over to the December 
number, which concludes the third volume of FOLK-LORE. 

The Chicago Folk-lore Society has started with much 
energy. It has already issued a Manual of Folk-lore, 
mainly compiled from the Society's Handbook ; and also 
the first number of the Folk-Lorist, their official organ. 

It is proposed to hold a Folk-lore Congress at Chicago 
during the World's Fair next July. The local Folk-lore 
Society have taken up the idea with energy, and there seems 
no reason why American folk-lorists should not meet, and 
other folk-lorists send papers, though it is unlikely that 
the Congress will be in any other way International. 

The DenJiavi Tracts, vol. i, containing local rhymes and 
traditions of the North Countrie.has been issued to members 
of the Folk-lore Society, as the extra volume for 1891. 

The Trafisactions of the Folk-lore Congress of 1891 
are now all in print, and the volume will shortly be in the 
subscribers' hands. The Folk-lore Society have made 
themselves responsible for the volume, so that it is emi- 
nently desirable that each member of the Society should 
subscribe for it before its issue, as the price will be raised 
on publication. At present, the subscription-price is half- 


434 Notes and Neivs. 

The recent Oriental Congress had a section devoted to 
Anthropology, which included Folk-lore. 

The death of Mr. W. F. Skene, the late and probably 
last Historiographer Royal of Scotland, has removed a 
scholar whose researches in his Celtic Scotland and Four 
Books of Wales bore directly on some of the most interest- 
ing problems of British folk-lore. 

Among the books promised in the forthcoming pub- 
lishing season are Mr. Northall's book on English Folk- 
Rhymes ; Mr. Grant Allen's translation of the Attis of 
Catullus, with dissertations upon the Myth of Attis, the 
origin of Tree Worship, and the Galliambic Metre ; Prof 
Meyer's edition and translation of the twelfth-century Irish 
wonder-tale, 77^^ Vision of MacConglinne ; Mrs. Gommeon 
EnglisJi Game-Rhymes ; Rev. C. Swynerton's hidian Fairy 
Tales ; and Mr. Joseph Jacobs' Indian Fairy Tales. The 
latter will include some of the Indian originals of yEsop's 

Communications for the next number of Folk-Lore 
should be sent to the Office, 270, Strand, on or before 
November ist, 1892. 




\English books ptiblished in Lojidon, French books in Paris, 
ti7tless otherwise tnentionedJ] 

Bassett (F. S.). Sea Phantoms ; or, Legends and Superstitions of 

the Sea and of Sailors in all Lands and at all Times. Revised 

edition. 8vo. 505 pp. Morrill, Higgins and Co. (Chicago). 
The Folk-lore Manual. (No. i of the Chicago Folk-lore 

Society's Publications.) i2mo. 87 pp. 

• . • Chiefly compiled from the Folk-lore Society's Handbook. 
Brinton (D. G.). Anthropology as a Science and as a branch of 

University Fducation in the United States. 8vo. 15 pp. Phila- 
Christensen (A. M. H.). Afro-American Folk-lore. Told around 

cabin fires of the sea islands of South Carolina. 8vo. xiv, 116 pp. 

Cupples (Boston). 
Cordeiro da Matta (J. D.). Philosophia popular em proverbios 

Angolenses. i2mo. 187 pp. Lisbon. Typographia Moderna. 
■ . • Angolese text, Portuguese translation and European 

Emerson (P. H.). A Son of the Fens. Crown 8vo. 376 pp. S 

Low and Co. 

•."A transcript, photographic in its naked and cheerless truth, 

of the life of an East Norfolk peasant-fisherman. 
Freund (L.). Die Treue im Spiegel der Spruchweisheit. i : 

Deutsche Spriiche und Sprichworter. 8vo. 50 pp. Leipzig. 
Goblet d'Alviella. L'id^e de Dieu d'apres I'anthropologie et 

I'histoire. 8vo. xiv, 348 pp. Alcan. 

•.• Also English translation as the Hibbert Lectures for i8go 

(Williams and Norgate). 
GOLDSTAUB (M.) and Wendiener (R.) (edd.) Ein Tosco-Venezian- 

ischer Bestiarius. 8vo. vi, 526 pp. Niemeyer (Halle). 

■ . • An elaborate discussion of its literary history, as well as 

436 Folk-lore Bibliography. 

its philological peculiarities. Has relations with the general 
problem of the beast-tale. — J. J. 

Heinzel (R.). Ueberdas Gedicht vom Konig Orendel. 8vo. 90 pp. 
Tempsky (Vienna). 

". • A study on the legend of the Holy Coat of Treves. 

HOMMEL (F.). Der babylonische Ursprung der egyptischen Kultur 
nachgewiesen. 4to. vii, 68 pp. 

Leeb (P. W. L.). Sagen Niederosterreichs. Vol. I. 8vo. xiv, 156 pp. 
Kirsch (Vienna). 

MONSEUR (E.). Le Folk-lore Wallon. lamo. xxxvi, 144 pp. Rozez 

*. • Practically a second edition of the Questionnaire de Folk- 
lore Wallon. 

MULLER (D. H.). Die Recensionen und Versionen des Eldad had- 
Dani [aus " Denkschriften der K. Akad. d. Wiss."]. 4to. 80 pp. 
Tempsky (Vienna). 

'. • The account of an imaginative Jewish traveller of the loth 
century. Now thought to be the source of Prester John. — J. J. 

Nyrop (K.). Nej. Et motivshistorie. i2mo. 172 pp. 1891. Copen- 

• . ■ A study of the " No, sir, no !" jnotifm literature. 

Payne (E. J.). History of the New World called America. Vol. I. 
8vo. xxviii, 546. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 

•.' Book n discusses the religious ideas and organisation of 
the aborigines. 

Peregrinaggio di tre giovanni, figliuoli del re di Serendippo. Per 
opera di M. Christoforo Armeno della persiana nell' italiana 
lingua transportate. Nach den altesten Drucke v. J., 1557, her- 
ausgegeben von H. Gassner. Mit Vorvvorte von H. Varnhagen. 
8vo. XX, 112 pp. 1 89 1. Junge (Erlangen). 

Reinsch (R.) (ed.). Le Bestiaire. Das Thierbuch d. nermann. 
Dichters Guillaume le Clerc [Altfranzcisische Bibliothek, No. 14]. 
8vo. v, 441 pp. 

Siecke (Dr. E.). Die Liebesgeschichte des Himmels. Untersuchun- 
gen zur indo-german. Sagenkunde. 8vo. vii, 131 pp. Triibner 

Stober (A.). Die Sagen des Elsasses getreu nach der VolksiiberHe- 
ferung, den Chroniken und anderen gedriickten und handschrift- 
lichen Quellen gesammelt. Second edition by C. Miindel. Part 
I. Ober Elsass. 8vo. xv, 151 pp. Heitz (Strassburg). 

Folk-lore Bibliography. 437 


American Anthropologist, v, 2. J. W. Fewkes and J. G. Oiuens, A 
Tusayan Dance. /. N. B. Hewitt, Legend of the Founding of 
the Iroquois League. 

American Antiquarian, xiv, 3. The Water Babies, an Arickaree Story, 
as told by Ch. Hoffmann. 

Journal of American Folk-Lore, V, April to June. F. D. Bergett^ 
Popular American Plant-Names. /. H. Gore, The Go-backs. 
Collins Lee, Some Negro Lore from Baltimore. N'. C. Hoke, 
Folk-custom and Folk-belief in North Carolina. O. Thanet, 
Folk-lore in Arkansas. J. IV. Terrell, The Demon of Con- 
sumption. G. B. Grinnell, Development of a Pawnee Myth. 
A. C. Fletcher, Hae-thu-ska Society of the Omaha Tribe. Waste- 
basket of Words. Folk-lore Scrap-book. Notes and Queries. 
Bibliographical Notes, etc. 

'.• I take this opportunity of earnestly commending the 
Journal of the American Folk-lore Society to all English folk- 
lorists. The subscription to the Society (12^-. 6d.) may be paid 
through me. — A. NUTT. 

Dominion Illustrated Monthly (Montreal), i, 5. /. Reade, Oppor- 
tunities for the Study of Folk-lore in Canada. 

Modern Language Notes, vii, 5. Ch. Davidson, Concerning English 

The Folk-lorist. Journal of the Chicago Folk-lore Society, i, i. L. 
H. Aymc, Gleanings in Mexican Folk-lore. G. Swords, The 
Story of the Ghost-dance. L. Framboise, Canktewin, the ill- 
fated Woman. E. R. Young, Incidents of Indian Life. H. W. 
Hays, An Indian Death-chant. Barron, Memories of Negro 
Lore. Cable, Negro Folk-song. H. M. Wheeler, Illinois Folk- 
lore. Hirsch, The Evil Eye. 

Journal des Savants, March. G. Paris, Les origines de la podsie 
lyrique en France. 

Melusine, vi, 3. H. Gaidoz, Un ancetre du 4e etat ; Le coq cuit qui 
chante ; Les decorations. Van Duyse, La Pernette. /. Coiiraye 
du Pare, La fille qui fait la morte pour son honneur garden 
/. Tuchmann, La fascination {suite). E. Ernault, Les noms du 
diable en Breton ; Chansons populaires de la Basse-Bretagne. 
.Stan-Legis, La quarantaine de Marie-Madeleine. — 4. H. Gaidoz, 

43 S Folk-lore Bibliography. 

Le chevalier au lion ; Les noms du diable en Gallois ; Croyances 
et pratiques des chasseurs ; Les rites de la Construction. G. 
Doncieiix, La Belle dans la tour ; La Pernette. E. Rollatid, Le 
message. J. Titc/unann, La fascination {suite). E. Ernaiilt, 
Chansons populaires de la Basse-Bretagne. H. de Charencey\ 
L'enfant qui parle avant d'etre nd. 

Revue de rHistoire des Religions, January to February. G. Maspc'ro, 
Bulletin critique de la religion egyptienne. P. Regnatici, La 
^raddha vedique. L. Marsillier, M. Frazer et la Diane de Nemi. 

Revue Celtique, xiii, 3. H. de la Villemarqtie, Anciens Noels Bretons. 
A'. Meyer, Fingal Ronain (an nth century Irish version of the 
Incontinent Stepmother). 

Revue des Traditions Populaires, vii, 5. H. Z. Wissendorff, Legendes 
mythologiques lataviennes : xiv, Saoul^, Menesis et Perkoune. 
H. Z. Wissejtdorff, Notes sur la mythologie des Lataviens, ii. 
Mile. L. Rey, La muette guerie, complainte des Hautes-Alpes. 
L. Moriti, Coutumes de mariage : xi, Ordalie dans I'Aube. A. 
Guillojt, Les cloches : vi, Les cloches englouties. A. Harou, 
Cloches sonnant seules, vii ; Pouvoir des cloches, viii. R. 
Gtneste, Poesies sur les themes populaires : xxii, Le seigneur de 
Combourg. C. Prive, Le mois de mai, xxiii. R. Basset, Les 
ordalies : iii, Par le poison {suite) ; iv, Par I'eau bouillante 
{suite) ; v, Par I'huile bouillante ; vi. Par le fer rovigG.{suite) ; vii, 
Par le charbon ardent ; viii, Par la viande ; ix. Par la mer ; x, 
Par les crins ; xi, Par le clou ; xii, Par les crocodiles. L. Bo?ifte- 
inere. La massue benie : ii, k Locmariaquer ; iii, Massue du 
Mane-Guen. H. Harvut, Les croix legendaires : ii, Les croix 
de pierre de Saint-Malo. P.- V. Scbillot, Miettes de Folk-lore 
parisien, xx. H. He/tecke, Les noms des Doigts : iv-viii, Alle- 
magne et Etats-Unis. R. B., Pays de Beaune, ix. Paul Sebillot, 
Les esprits forts k la campagne : i. La Haute-Bretagne. R. 
Kerviler, La Basse-Bretagne, ii. C. Rabat, Les glaciers {suite) : 
iii, Le glacier de Charbonnel. A. Ccrteux, La boulangerie et le 
pain : i, Notes diverses. E. Herpin, La Madeleine et les 
cordiers. R. Basset, Les villes englouties, Ixviii-lxxii. H. Har- 
vut, Pelerins et p^lerinages : xiii, Littoral de Saint-Malo. P. 
Sebillot, Les Mystifications : iii, L'origine du poisson d'avril 
{suite) ; iv, Similaires du poisson d'avril. J. Cornelissen, La 
chanson de Bricou, x : v, Africaine. P. S., Allusions k des contes 
populaires : viii, Le fin voleur. F. Fertiault, Usages et super- 
stitions de mai : iv. La patrouille du four. L. Sichler, Les Rites 
de la construction : iv, Priere &. la pose de fondations. R. Basset, 

Folk-lore Bibliography. 439 

Cadavres sous les fondations, vii. — vii, 6. P. Sebillot^ Les Mon- 
tagnes: i, Les Glaciers ; ii, Les Eboulements ; iii, Les Esprits ; iv, 
Mirages et hallucinations ; v, Les Tresors et les Merveilles ; vi, 
Coutumes ; vii, Queiques points a enqueter. J. de Laporlerie, 
Chants populaires de la Chalosse : i, La nobi ; ii, Chants des 
Moissonneurs. A. Ramnielmeyer^ La famine russe dans les 
traditions populaires. G. Le Calvez, Devinettes : Pays de 
Treguier. R. Basset^ Les Ordalies : xii, Par la chute. R. 
Basset, La fraternisation par le sang, v-xxx. Prince R. Bona- 
parte, Les rites de la construction, vi. P. Gauthrez, Poesies sur 
des themes populaires : xxiii, La chanson du fuseau ; La chanson 
de Marie de Clcves. P. S., La legende de Midas : ii, Le roi a 
tete de cheval. R. Basset, Legendes africaines sur I'origine de 
I'homme, ix. M. Wilmotte et J. Tiersot, A propos d'un article 
bibliographique sur la chanson populaire. A. Certeux, Les 
pendus : v, Les saints et les pendus ; vi, Faceties macabres ; 
vii, Les pendus et la destinee. Alfred Harou, Les chercheurs 
de tresors, i, ii. A'. Bayon^ Superstitions et coutumes des 
mariniers, vii-viii. R. Basset, Solaiman dans les legendes 
musulmanes {s2izte). — vii, 7. A. Gittie, Navires et marins : i, 
Bapteme d'un vaisseau i Oldembourg. F. M. Luzel, Le vent 
et la Magie, ii. G. Le Calvez, iii, Les Naufrageurs ; iv, Les saints 
du littoral ; v, Les sirenes et les fees ; vi, Les poissons mon- 
strueux. Mine. P. Sebillot, L'Amant qui se noie : i, ii, Chansons 
des C6tes-du-Nord. F. MarqTier, Petites legendes chretiennes : 
ii, Sainte Malvaine. R. Basset, Contes arabes et orientaux : 
ix, Contes d'Abyssinie. A. Certeux, Les Fetes des fiUes. P. 
Sebillot, Les incidents des Contes populaires de la Haute- 
Bretagne : i, Table analytique et alphabetique. J. Carlo, Les 
Empreintes : i, Les pas de la sainte famille a Moncontour ; ii, 
Le talon du diable ; iii, Les pieds de Mourioche. A. Certeux, 
Les Pourquoi : Ivi, Pourquoi il y a des barbes rousses. A. Le 
Braz, La Basse-Bretagne conteuse et l^gendaire. R. Bayon, 
Allusions k des contes populaires : viii, Le fin voleur. L. de 
Villers, Les Cloches, ix. 

•.• M. Sebillot's Incident Index to the various collections he 
has published is of e.xtreme value to storyologists. 

Romania, xxi, Avril. G. Weigand, Nouvelles recherches sur le 
Roumain de I'lstrie (contains two folk-tales). 

Ausland, No. i. C. A. Jacobsen, Die Sintfiutsage bei den Haidu- 

Indianern (continued in No. 12). 
Wiener Zeitschrift fiir die Kunde des Morg-enlandes, vi, i, E. Leu- 

mann. Die Legende von Citta und Sambhuta. 

440 Folk-lore Bibliography. 

Zeitschrift fiir das Alterthum und die Litteratur, xxxvi, i. Better 
Die Hamletsage. Preni^ Tirolischer Glaube und Aberglaube des 
ersten Jahrhunderts. 

Zeitschrift fiir vergleichende Litteratur-Geschichte, xv, i. A. Voigt^ 
Hephaistos und der Schmied von Jiiterbogk. K. O. Meyer, 
Ueber Perrault's Miirchen, " Riquet a la houpe." 

Zeitschrift des Vereins fiir Volkskunde, vol. ii, 2. A. Olrik, Marchen 
in Saxo Grammaticus (cont. in 3). A. Thumb, Zur neugrie- 
chischen Volkskunde (cont. in 3). R. Mielke, Zur Giebel- 
entwickelung des sachsischen Bauernhauses. O. L. Jiriczek^ 
Fardische Sagen und Marchen (cont.). J. J. Ainmann, Volks- 
segen aus dem Bohmerwald. F. S. Krauss, Der Tod iin Sitte, 
Branch und Glauben der Sudslaven (ii). M. Rehsener, Weiteres 
iiber Wind, Wetter, Regen, Schnee und Sonnenschein und die 
Gebirgsnatur. Kleine Mitteilungen. Blicheranzeigen. Litteratur 
des Jahres 1891. — 3. W.Sch'wartze^NoV&%i\xvci\\c:}i\& Schlaglichter 
(ii). Arendt, Aus dem Aber- und Geisterglauben der Chinesen. 
Piger, Handwerksbrauch in der Iglauer Sprachinsel. 6". Singer, 
Sagengeschichtliche Parallelen aus dem babylonischen Talmud. 
K. Maurer, Das Schneeschuhlaufen in Norwegen. A. John, 
Zur Volkskunde des Egerlandes. Kleine Mitteilungen. Blicher- 
anzeigen. Litteratur des Jahres 1891. 

[I wish to draw especial attention to the admirable biblio- 
graphy compiled by Dr. M. Laue, systematically arranged, and 
giving titles of papers in periodicals or in Transactions in the 
same alphabet as separately published works, which appears in 
instalments at the end of each number of the Zeitschrift. — A. N.] 


Vol III.] DECEMBER, 1892. [No. IV. 


THERE is a certain connection, perplexing and obscure, 
between the Christian Festival of Easter and the 
worship or sacrifice o^ hares. The evidences of such a con- 
nection are furnished chiefly by survivals in folk-custom, 
but these are so few and indistinct, so far at least as I have 
been able to trace them, that they seem only to raise a pro- 
blem without contributing much to its solution. 

The custom of eating the Easter hare is classed by Mr. 
Elton among those ceremonies which bear most openly the 
marks of their original paganism.^ It is best known in 
Pomerania, where hares are caught at Easter-tide to provide 
a public meal."^ In other parts of Germany there are 
traces of a similar tradition. Thus, the children in South 
Germany are told that a hare lays the Pasche eggs, and a 
nest is made for the hare to lay them in-^ ; and it is cus- 
tomary in many parts of the country " to place a figure of 
the hare among the Easter eggs, when given as a present, 
either a hare in a basket of eggs, or a small figure of a hare 
in one of the fancy eggs".* The same object is common 
on Easter cards.'' 

^ Origms 0/ Eftglish History, 2nd ed., 1890, p. 390. 

2 Op. cit., p. 391, ftofe. 

3 Folk-lore Journal, vo\. i, pp. 121-2 ; Holtzmann's Deutsche My- 
/Aologle (Holder), Leipzig, 1S74, p. 141. 

* Azotes and Qtceries, 3rd Series, i.\, 473. 

^ Ibid., 8th Series, i, 475. 

VOL. in. G G 

442 The Easter Hare. 

In England there are a few indications of the same 
kind. " It would appear", writes Mr. James Britten, "that 
the hare was at one time in some way associated with 
Easter observance in this country";^ and he quotes an entry 
from the Calendar of State Papers (Domestic Series), which 
is as follows : 

" 1620, April 2. Thos. Fulnety solicits the permission 
of Lord Zouch, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, to 
kill a hare on Good Friday, as huntsmen say that those 
who have not a hare against Easter must eat a red 

At Coleshill, in Warwickshire, if the young men of the 
parish can catch a hare, and bring it to the parson before 
10 o'clock on Easter Monday, the parson is bound to give 
them a calf s head and a hundred of eggs for their break- 
fast, and a groat in money." 

But the most complete instances of Easter-hare ritual 
surviving in this country are furnished by two striking 
customs, both of which were once observed on Easter 
Monday in the county of Leicester, and one of which is still 

The custom of Hunting the Easter Hare at Leicester is 
thus described in Throsby's History of the town: 

" It had long been customary on Easter Monday for the 
Mayor and his brethren, in their scarlet gowns, attended by 
their proper officers, in form, to go to a certain close, called 
Black-Annis' Bower Close, parcel of, or bordering upon, 
Leicester Forest, to see the diversion of hunting, or rather 
the trailing of a cat before a pack of hounds ; a custom 
perhaps originating out of a claim to the royalty of the 
forest. Hither, on a fair day, resorted the young and old, 
and those of all denominations. In the greatest harmony 
the Spring was welcomed. The morning was spent in 
various amusements and athletic exercises, till a dead cat, 

^ F.-L. Joiirnal, vol. v, p. 263 ; N. and Q., 4th Series, viii, 23. 
2 Dyer, British Popular Customs (Bohn), p. 176 ; Brand's Popular 
Antigtdties {Bohn), vol. i, p. 177. 

The Easter Hare. 443 

about noon, was prepared by aniseed water for commenc- 
ing the mock-hunting of the hare. In about half-an-hour, 
after the cat had been trailed at the tail of a horse over the 
grounds in zig-zag directions, the hounds were directed to 
the spot where the cat had been trailed from. Here the 
hounds gave tongue in glorious concert. The people from 
the various eminences who had placed themselves to behold 
the sight, with shouts of rapture, gave applause ; the horse- 
men dashing after the hounds through foul passages and over 
fences, were emulous for taking the lead of their fellows. . . . 
As the cat had been trailed to the Mayor's door, through 
some of the principal streets, consequently the dogs and 
horsemen followed. After the hunt was over, the Mayor 
gave a handsome treat to his friends ; in this manner 
the day ended. "^ 

This description is by an eye-witness of this old muni- 
cipal custom, which began to fall into disuse about the 
year 1767, although traces of it lingered within recent years 
in an annual holiday or fair held on the Danes' Hills and 
the Fosse Road, on Easter Monday. 

The first mention of the Easter hunting on the Danes' 
Hills in the Town Records occurs in the year 1668, but it 
was then an ancient custom, and is so described. There are 
records, however, of a similar hunt having taken place else- 
where more than a century earlier. Thus, in the Chamber- 
lains' accounts for the year 1574 there is an item of \2d. 
" given to the hare-finders at Whetston Court",'^ and from 
this and other notices it appears that the hunting was 
originally, as might be expected, that of a real hare. 

We may here in a few words dismiss Throsby's conjec- 
ture that this custom originated out of a claim by the town 

^ Throsby's History of Leicester^ p. i66. See Kelly's Notices oj 
Leicester (1865), p. 168 ; North's Chronicles of St. Martin's (1866), p. 
158; Thompson's History of Leicester in the Eighteenth Century y 
1871, p. 38^^^. 

2 Kelly, op. cit., pp. 173, 206, 278. Cf. Shakespeare, Much Ado, 
Act i, Sc. I. 

G G 2 

444 ^/^^' Ecistci'- Hai^e. 

of Leicester to the royalty of the forest. It has been 
pointed out by Mr. Kelly, in his Notices of Leicester, that 
this could hardly be the case, " as the forest had been held 
from time immemorial as part of the demesne of the ancient 
Earls of Leicester, and passed to the Crown in the person of 
Henry IV."^ He suggests, however, that "this formal 
ceremony of hunting in their state robes was adopted by 
the Corporation as an assertion of their right of free warren 
over the lands in question". But there are grounds for 
thinking that the Easter Hunting of the Hare rests upon a 
tradition far older and more universal than those which 
have been suggested by the historians of Leicester ; for 
there are traces, as we have seen, of a similar annual rite in 
other parts of England, as well as in Germany. And in 
Leicestershire itself another custom still prevails, known as 
" The Hallaton Hare-pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking", in 
which the same animal takes a prominent part in the ob- 
servance of Easter. An account of this Hallaton festival 
was given in the Leicester Jonrnal ior April 22nd, 1892, and 
runs thus- : 

" The origin of the custom associated with ' Hare Pie Bank' is 
lost in the mists of antiquity, and may be a relic of mediaeval 
times, similar to the old ' Whipping Toms' in Leicester, put down 
in 1847. At all events, at a remote period, a piece of land was 
bequeathed to the Rector conditionally that he and his successors 
continued annually 'two hare pies, a quantity of ale, and two 
dozen penny loaves, to be scrambled for on each succeeding 
Easter Monday, at the rising ground called Hare Pie Bank', about 
a quarter of a mile south of the village. This land, before the 
enclosure, was called ' Hare-crop-leys', and at the time of dividing 
the fields, in 1771, another piece of land was allotted to the 
Rector in place of the ' Leys'. Of course, hares being ' out of 

^ Kelly, op. cit., p. 169. It is, however, probable that some part of 
the forest was included in and formed part of the original town. 

2 See also Leicestershire Azotes and Queries, vol. i, p. 147 ; Nichols' 
History of Leicestershire, ii, 630 ; " Hallaton", according to Nichols = 
" Holy town". 

The Easter Hare. 445 

season' at this time of the year, pies of mutton, veal, and bacon 
are substituted. (This year the loaves were dispensed with, an 
equivalent being given to the aged poor.) .... As may well be 
imagined, Easter Monday is the great carnival of the year, and 
eagerly looked forward to by the youths and natives of the place, 
as well as by the surrounding villagers. This year the two benefit 
societies, as usual, held their anniversary, one at the Royal Oak, 
and the other at the Fox Inn, and to enliven the proceedings each 
engaged a band of musicians to accompany the members in pro- 
cessional order to the parish church for the ' club sermon', after 
which each society proceeded to their respective inns, where a 
substantial dinner was provided. About three p.m. a selected 
deputation called at the Rectory for the provided ' pies and beer', 
which, upon being taken to the Fox Inn, a procession was organised 
in the following order : 

" Two men abreast, carrying two sacks with the pies cut up. 

"Three men abreast, carrying aloft a bottle each; two of these 
bottles, filled with beer, are ordinary field wood bottles, but without 
the usual mouth, and are iron-hooped all over, with just a hole 
left for drinking from ; the third is a ' dummy'. 

" Occasionally, when can be procured, as was the case in 1885, a 
hare, in sitting posture, mounted on top of a pole. 

" Band of music. 

" Procession, which, as may well be imagined, increases greatly in 
number as it approaches the ' Hare Pie Bank', where, on arrival, 
the pies cut up are pitched out of the sack and scrambled for. 

"Until this year a man followed the band with a basket containing 
the penny loaves, which were broken up and thrown about indis- 
criminately as he went along. On Monday, when the procession 
neared the bank, the band struck up 'See the conquering hero 
comes', and on reaching the bank the hare-pies were scrambled 
for by the spectators, who amused themselves by throwing the 
contents at each other. Then commenced in earnest the busi- 
ness of the day — the well-known ' Hallaton botHe-kicking'. One 
of the large bottles containing ale — both of which are of wood 
strongly iron-hooped — was thrown into the circular hollow on the 
mound, when the ' Medbourne men' or other villagers who cared 
to join tried to wrest the bottle from the Hallatonians' grasp. 
Talk of a football scrimmasre ! It was nothing to this. First one 

446 The Easter Hare. 

side then the other prevailed, the object of the Hallatonians being 
to kick or get the bottle, by hook or by crook, to their boundary 
line over the brook adjoining the village. As each side was rough 
and determined, some fierce struggles ensued, especially when the 
surging mass of villagers reached a post-and-rail fence, which, 
giving way, precipitated the lot heels over head into the highway. 
Here followed the roughest part of the contest, as ' the strangers' 
nearly succeeded in getting the bottle over the adjoining 
fence, which, if accomplished, would have enabled them to work 
the much prized object to the Medbourne boundary. However, 
they were unsuccessful, as the prize was again got on the bank, and 
after a scene of good-humoured disorder that baffles description, 
was, after half-an-hour's tussle, got on to the ground sloping to the 
brook, and after being conveyed over two or three fences and 
-ditches, was, amid the loud applause of the natives, safely got over 
the water — which was not the case with some of the combatants, 
who landed in the water. The victors of course claimed the con- 
tents. Next came ' the dummy', which, if anything, was contested 
for with even keener zest, for the Hallaton people boast that this 
has never yet got beyond their grasp, and they are not a little 
proud of their possession, which they do not at present seem at all 
likely to lose. The third bottle was then taken in triumph to the 
Market-cross, and its contents drunk with ' due honours'. The 
bottles for the occasion are carefully kept from year to year, and 
those now in use have done duty for more than thirty years. The 
present 'bottle holder' is Mr. Omar Neale, who takes a great 
interest in seeing the old custom perpetuated (which many might 
think more honoured in the breach than in the observance), and 
brightens up with animation when recounting the various inci- 
dents of note that have occurred during his stewardship." 

How are we to explain these strange Easter customs) 
which, taken all together, seem to bear the stamp of im- 
memorial antiquity? 

It has been suggested by Mr. Elton in his Origins of 
English History^ that they are survivals of sacrificial rites 
connected with the worship of the Anglian goddess Eostre, 
who is mentioned by Bode as giving her name to the great 

^ Op. cit., p. 390, note. 

The Easter Hare. 447 

Christian festival. But as to the very existence of this 
goddess, the opinions of mythologists are divided ; for she 
is referred to only by Bede, and by him only in one passage, 
to explain the name " Esturmonath", given to April by the 
early English.^ Not a trace of her existence is left among 
other Teutonic peoples ; but as the Germans also speak of 
" Ostermoneth", whereas all surrounding nations use the 
Biblical " Pascha", Jacob Grimm gives the goddess a 
German name also, " Ostara", and labels her, upon ety- 
mological grounds, " the divinity of the radiant dawn, of 
upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, 
and whose meaning could easily be adapted to the resur- 
rection day of the Christian God."^ 

In Holtzmann's German Mythology she is also referred to 
as the goddess of Dawn.^ "The Easter Hare is unintelli- 
gible to me", he adds, "but probably the hare was the 
sacred animal of Ostara."^ 

Oberle also concludes that the hare which lay the parti- 
coloured Easter eggs was sacred to the same goddess.^ 
Among other authorities who have no doubts as to her 

^ " Antiqui Anglorum populi, gens mea .... apud eos Aprilis 
Esturmonath, qui nunc paschalis menses interpretatur, quondam a dea 
illorum, quae Eostra vocabitur et cui in illo festa celebrantur, nomen 
habuit ; a cujus nomine nunc paschale tempus cognominant, consento 
antiquae observationis vocabulo gaudia novae solemnitatis vocantes," 
(Beda, De temporum ratiotte, c. 13.) Cf. Grimm's Teutonic Mythology 
(Stallybrass, London, 1882), pp. 288-291, 616, 780-81, 1371, and 

- Op. cit., 291. 

^ llo\tzma.nn, Deutsche MythoIogie.iY>'P- I37-I4i- 

^ Op. cit., p. 141. He mentions (p. 138) that the goddess Freyja 
was worshipped by the Swedes and Danes under the name "Astrild" 
= Austr-hildis ; "so that Ostara might be Freyja herself or her 
daughter." It may be noted that Freyja " was attended by hares as 
her train-bearers and light-bearers". Henderson, Notes on the Folk- 
lore of the Northern Counties of England., ed. Baring Gould, London, 
1866, p. 170 ; F.-L.fourjial, i, 89. 

° Oberle, Ueberreste germanischcn Heidentums in Christentum. 
Baden-Baden, 1883, p. 104. 

44^ '^^^^ Easte7' Hare. 

existence are W. Grimm, Wackernagel, Sinrock, and 
Wolf.^ On the other hand, Weinhold rejects the idea on 
philological grounds, and so do Heinrich Leo and Hermann 
Oeser.^ Kuhn says, " The Anglo-Saxon Eostre looks like 
an invention ofBede";^ and Mannhardt also dismisses her 
as an etymological dea ex i»achina} 

The whole question turns, as Oberle says, upon Bede's 
credibility, with regard to which one is inclined to agree 
with Jacob Grimm, that it would be uncritical to saddle this 
eminent Father of the Church, who keeps Heathendom at 
arms' length and tells us less of it than he knows, with the 
invention of this goddess.'' Moreover, the Christianising of 
England began at the end of the sixth century, and was com- 
pleted about the end of the seventh, and as Bede was born in 
672, he must have had opportunities of learning the names 
of heathen goddesses who were hardly extinct in his life- 

But however this may be, whether there ever was a god- 
dess named Eostre, or not, and whatever connection the 
hare may have had with the ritual of Saxon or British 
worship, there are good grounds for believing that the 
sacredness of this animal reaches back into an age still 
more remote, when it probably played a very important 
part at the great Spring Festival of the prehistoric inhabi- 
tants of this island. It appears not unlikely that the hare 
was originally a totem, or divine animal among the local 
aborigines, and that the customs at Leicester and Hallaton 
are relics of the religious procession and annual sacrifice of 
the god. 

This hypothesis, startling as it appears, is supported by 
the concurrent testimony of several large groups of deep 
and widespread superstitions, some of which unquestionably 
date from that primitive and barbarous condition of mind 
to which we owe the peculiar features of Totemism. 

^ Op. cif.,-p. 107. - Ibid. ^ Zeitsdirift., iii, 171. 

* Mannhardt's ^a/w/Z-wZ/^/i-, Berlin, 1875, p. 505, ;/(?/6'y ^^12., 72ote. 
^ Grimm, T. M., p. 289. 

The Easter Hare. 449 

In order to appreciate the significance of these super- 
stitions, it will be necessary to set them out in some detail, 
and for that purpose it may be convenient to divide them 
into twelve groups. 

I. The first argument for the quondam divinity of the hare 
is derived from the fact that it is still zvorsJiipped as a god. 
It may appear strange, at first sight, that a creature so 
apparently unregarded and insignificant should ever have 
divine honours paid to it at all. But, as a matter of fact, the 
hare has always been, and still is, worshipped as a god in 
many countries, literally, indeed, " from China to Peru." 
The most conspicuous example of this worship is furnished 
by the cult of Michabo or Manibozho, the Great Hare of 
the Algonkins, whose myth prevails throughout the North 
American continent, " from the remotest wilds of the 
North-West to the coast of the Atlantic, from the southern 
boundary of Carolina to the cheerless swamps of Hudson's 
Bay."^ For other instances of this worship I may refer to 
a paper by LIr. W. G. Black, contributed to the Folk-lore 
Journal for 1883.^ The conclusion at which Mr. Black 
arrives is very pertinent to the present argument. " With- 
out attempting to found an}' sweeping generalisations upon 
the above facts, I may point out that the hare's celebrity is 
almost as great as its notoriety, and for my own part 
I am inclined to think that among primitive peoples 
the hare occupied a very high and honourable place in 

The hare is said to have been sacrificed to the goddess 
Flora* ; and at the Floralia there were hunting games in the 
circus, at which, instead of wild African beasts, goats and 
hares were driven into the net.'' 

^ A. Lang-, Myth, Ritual., and Rctigion, i, 183-4 ; ii, 55-9. 

* F.-L. /our7tal, i, 84 ; " The Hare in Folk-lore," by \Vm. G. 
Black, F.S.A.Scot. 

^ Fid., p. 89. 

* Phaedrus, translated by Riley (Bohn), 1853, p. 450, note. 
^ Ovid, Fasti, Lib. v, 371-2. 

450 T^he Easter Hare. 

II. In the second place, the fiesJi of the hare is, or was 
very generally tabooed. Among the many widely-separated 
peoples with whom this taboo occurs may be mentioned 
the following : Jews,^ Chinese,^ Lapps,^ Hottentots/ Green- 
landers,^ Somal Arabs and Shiya'ees,*' Namaquas,'' 
Welsh, Germans,^ Bretons,^ British.^*^ The inhabitants of 
the Swiss lake dwellings,^^and of the Danish shell mounds,^^ 
also appear to have abstained from eating this animal. In 
India hare's meat was specially permitted by the laws of 
Manu^^; it appears from a passage in the Kalevala to have 
been eaten by the ancient Finns, and it has of course been 
generally consumed by the more advanced nations of 
Europe. In some cases, however, even when it is eaten, a 
special religious or civic virtue, derived apparently from old 
sacrificial usage, is still attached to it. Thus, the celebrated 
" black broth" of the Spartans was made of the blood and 
bowels of a hare,^'^ and in Ireland it was an old and peculiar 
privilege of the kings of Tara to be fed upon " the hares of 
Naas", a diet which probably owed its origin to religious 

It may also be noticed that peoples who do not eat the 
hare are quite unable to account for their conduct. The 
taboo has been handed down from dark primaeval times, 
and is explained by some fable obviously modern, and often 
absurd. Thus the Jews gave a reason which any observer 

^ Leviticus, xi, 6. 

^ F.-L. Journal, i, 89 ; Lubbock's PrcJiistoric Times, 2nd ed., 
London, 1869, p. 190. 

^ Lubbock, op. cit., p. 190. * Ibid. ^ Ibid. 

^ Palgrave's Central and Eastern Arabia, London, 1865, i, 360; 
'QvLXton's First Footpri?its, p. 155. 

"^ Tylor, Primitive Culture, London, 1871, i, 320. 

8 Oberle, op. cit., p. 104. ^ Elton, op. cit., p. 286. 

10 See p. 451. " Lubbock, op. cit., 190- 1. 1- Ibid. 

^^ Ordinances of Manu (Triibner's Oriental Series), London, 1884, 
p. 112. 

" Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, iii, cp. 17. 

^^ Elton, op. cit., p. 286, note. 

The Easter Ha7'e. 451 

of nature might have exploded^ ; the Namaquas say they 
have an old grudge against the animal because he deceived 
them^ ; the Shiya'ees say " that they act in virtue of 
certain traditions handed down from their demigods", and 
adduce a special reason, which is " too stupid by far and 
too coarse to be recorded" by Mr. Palgrave.^ 

The consequences which ensue among some peoples from 
breaking this taboo also point to its very ancient and to- 
temistic origin. Thus the Namaqua, if he eats hare's flesh 
after attaining manhood, " is not unfrequently banished 
from his werft, though on paying a fine he may again be 
admitted to the community."^ 

With regard to the British, we have the authority of 
Caesar that at the time of his arrival in the country the 
hare was tabooed. ^' Leporem et galHnam et anserem 
gustare, fas non putant ; haec tamen alunt animi volup- 
tatisque causa." '' 

Why did the British make it a matter of religious duty 
not to eat the flesh of hares, while at the same time they 
kept and fed them ? I think, having regard to the facts 
above-mentioned, that the most probable explanation is 
this, that the hare was a sacred animal, upon whom rested 
a taboo derived from a far ruder and more ancient re- 
ligious system, under which it was worshipped as a tribal 
totem or god.^ That the agricultural and comparatively 

1 " The hare, because she cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof, 
she is unclean unto you" (Leviticus, xi, 6). It is curious that in Albert 
Diirer's " Smaller Passion" the hare figures as the principal dish in 
the Last Supper, and the same mistake appears in the chapel at 
Galton Park. See N'ofes and Queries^ 2nd Series, ii, 490. 

- Se.G post, p. 460. 

^ Palgrave, op. cit., p. 360. The reader will perhaps remember the 
reason given by Lady Answerall in Swift's Polite Conversations^ when 
she quotes the old medical saw, " Hare-flesh engendereth melancholy 
bloude." Cf. Clodd, Myths and Dreams, London, 18S5, p. 166. 

* Lake Nga?ni, by C. J. Anderson, London, 1856, p. 328. 

* Csesar, Cornnientaries, v, 1 2. 

* A writer in the Edinburgh Revieiu, for April 1892 (p. 331), in an 

45- ^^^ Easter Hare. 

civilised British were themselves ignorant of the reason of 
this taboo, is of course probable, and they may have re- 
garded hares merely as domestic pets, who were kept, as 
Caesar says, " for amusement and pleasure", but to whom 
there clung nevertheless some strange and venerable super- 

III. In some places there still lingers a sti'ong objection to 
utter the name of the hare — a superstition which has its 
roots among the earliest strata of religious prejudice. Mr. 
Gregor says that among the inhabitants of the north-east 
coast of Scotland, " the word 'hare' is never pronounced at 
sea'V and the same superstition is also found among the 
fishermen in the West of Ireland.^ 

In Western Brittany the peasants, not many years ago, 
" could hardly endure to hear the hare's name".^ 

IV. Both in accepted systems of divination, and in the 
prejudices of the vulgar, the hare is a fertile source of 

The prophecy of Kalkas, foretelling the fall of Troy, and 

article on " Semitic Religions'', suggests another explanation of this 
taboo : " Savage men have very generally supposed that the qualities 
of the animal eaten are absorbed by the eater; . . . that the cowardice of 
the hare may result from feeding on its flesh, which is sometimes allowed 
to women, but not to men." This explanation does not appear wide 
enough, however, to cover all the cases. The reason of the hare being 
allowed to women among the Hottentots, but not to men, is possibly 
due to a wish to exclude women from the penetralia of religious 
worship, such as exists in the strictest form among the aboriginal 
Ainus of Japan. Cf Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites., Edin- 
burgh, 1889, p. 216, 7iote. 

■^ F.-L. fournal., i, 87. 

^ Ibid., ii, 260. " So great is their aversion to a fox, hare, or 
rabbit, that they never so much as mention their names themselves, 
nor endure even to hear them named by others. If a fisherman of 
Claddagh happened to see one of these animals or hear its name 
mentioned, he would not on that day venture to sea ; and the cause of 
this strange superstition they neither know themselves, nor can any- 
one else account for it." 

^ Elton, op. cit., p. 286. 

The Easter Hare. ak-i 

also the sacrifice of Iphigenia to the Taurfan Artemis, was 
inspired by the apparition of two eagles feasting on a preo-. 
nant hare, and the anger of the goddess is expressly as- 
cribed by /Eschylus to this event.i According to the poet, 
her tender heart is outraged by the sacrifice of the helpless 
brood, but this is a poetical and Hellenistic version, for the 
Taurian "Artemis" was no gracious lady of the Greek 
Pantheon, but a cruel and barbaric deity, probably a moon- 
goddess who protected the hare as her messenger and 
servant.2 Upon more historical occasions omens have been 
derived from hares. Thus, in Pausanias, the priest of the 
moon-goddess instructs some exiles, who are searching for 
a propitious place to found a city, to build it in a myrtle 
grove into which they should see a hare flee for refuge.^ 
When Arnold and his German hordes besieged Rome, a 
hare ran towards the walls, and, the Teutons pursuing, a 
panic seized the Romans, who looked on it as a fatal omen ; 
they deserted the gates without striking a blow, and the 
barbarians entered.'' And in our own country hares were 
employed for purposes of divination. Thus Boadicea, when 
she harangued her soldiers to spirit them up against the 
Romans, opened her bosom and let go a hare, which she 
had there concealed, that the augurs might thence proceed 
to divine.-^ 

The main evidence for the ancient sacredness of the 
hare rests upon its subsequent unpopularity, and the super- 
stitions which cluster round it. It is of course a matter of 
common observation that the deities of one age become 
the devils of another ; that, in the lapse of years, objects 
which were formerly worshipped and held in pious honour, 

^ Eschylus, Agamemnon, 109-159. 

2 A. Lang, J/)///?, Ritual, and Religion, ii, 216; Miiller's Dorians 
(Tr. Tuffnel and Lewis, Oxford, 1830), i, 397. 

' Pausanias, iii, 22 ; A. Lang, op. cif., i, 27S. 

* Notes a7td Queries, 4th Series, viii, 505. 

^ Dion Cassius, Ixii, 3 ,• Borlase, Antiquities oj Cornwall, p. 135 ; 
Elton, op. cit., p. 286, 7iotej F.-L. Journal, i, 86, 89. 

454 ^^^^ Easter Hare. 

become, under a new dispensation, the most ill-omened and 
outcast. Thus we may often argue back from the present 
unpopularity of an animal to its former divinity. The fate 
of the hare appears to have been similar to that of the wren. 
This very small and humble bird seems to have been a 
common totem, and its name in nearly all European 
languages still recalls its early sovereignty.^ In some 
places (as in Cornwall-^) a certain divinity hedges the bird 
to this day, but in others only the faint traces of its original 
sacrifice survive in the cruel sport called " Hunting the 
Wren", which prevails widely throughout France and the 
British Isles. Somewhat similar to the fate of the shy 
little king of birds is that of the timid hare. He is strictly 
boycotted by all superstitious people. Here are a few 
examples : 

(i) To meet a hare is a very bad stroke of luck ; and 
many people, if they meet a hare when going to work, will 
return home, and not venture out again until the next meal 
has been eaten.^ This superstition is common in the 
British Isles, and is also found in India, Germany, France, 
Austria, Sweden, Africa, Lapland, Finland, and doubtless 

(2) The hare portends a fire. There are reports of this 
superstition from South Northamptonshire* and from Ely,^ 
and also from Hungary.^ In the Wheal Vor mine the 
appearance of a hare presages a fatal accident.'^ 

(3) The animal is accursed, an object of disgust and 

1 Brand, Pop. Afttiq., iii, 195-200 ; De Gubernatis, Zoological 
Mythology, 1872, ii, 207. 

2 F.-L. Journal, v, 213. 

2 Brand, iii, 2oi ; F.-L. Joiimal,\,Z\-^ ; 11,258 ; De Gubernatis, op. 
cit., 11, 81; Indian Antiquary, v, 21 ; Henderson, op. cit., 204; 
Gomme, Folk-lore Relics of Early Village Life, London, 1883, p. 183; 
Kalewala, Rune 38, Crawford's translation, p. 576. 

* F.-L. Journal, 1, 87. 

* Notes a/id Queries, 3rd Series, xl, 134-5. 
" Ibid., xll, 362. 

^ F.-L. Journal, 1, 85. 

The Easter Hare. 45 c 

terror. Fishers ofFifeshire.we are told, "look on all maukens 
(hares) to be devils and witches, and if they but see a sight 
of a dead mauken, it sets them a trembling".i In Russia 
and Brittany the hare inspires disgust and loathing.2 
Among the Indians of Huarochiri the creature was cursed 
by their divine ancestor, " so he ran away and is still run- 
ning".3 In Finland the hare must never be called " bad" 
during the hunting season.* 

(4) Hares have power over marriages. Thus, in Russian 
popular tradition, the hare meeting the nuptial car is a 
presage of bad omen for the newly wedded pair.^ 

V. But the superstition which most strikingly places the 
hare upon the left hand is that which associated him with 
those adherents of fallen gods and broken idols, the pro- 
fessors of the Black Art. Ever since the prince of necro- 
mancers, " the wondrous Michael Scott," was turned into 
a hare by the witch of Falsehope, and hunted by his own 
hounds, this harmless creature has been most closely 
associated with witcJicraft and magic. " The Hare", says 
Henderson, in his Notes oti the Folk-lore of the Northern 
Counties of England, "is the most common disguise of 
the witch in all the northern countries of Europe."*^ Many 
instances are given by Henderson, and others may be 
found in Thorpe's Mythology, Sir Walter Scott's Demon- 
ology and Witchcraft, and elsewhere.^ 

^ F.-L. foi(7-nal, i, 87. 

2 Elton, op. cit., 286 ; Figuier, Primitive Man (Tylor), 268. 

^ A. Lang, op. cit., i, 177. 

* Folk- Lore, ii, 246. 

^ De Gubernatis, op. cit., ii, 81-2. 

^ Henderson, op. cit., p. 168. 

^ Thorpe, iii, 278; Scott {Moriefs Universal Library), pp. 203, 213, 
233 ; F.-L. fonrnal, vii, 284-5 ; Folk- and Hero-Tales from Argyll- 
shire, F.-L. S., 1889, pp. 87-89, 454; Atkinson's Forty Years in a 
Moorland Parish, 2nd edit., 1891, pp. 88-92. "The witch", says 
Canon Atkinson, "under the form of a hare, is of perpetual recurrence 
in all the copious witch-lore of the district." {Ibid., p. 87.) See Moore's 
Folk-lore of the Isle of Man, London, 1891, pp. 95, 147. 

45^ The Easter Hai^e. 

I think that this superstition may be traced in other 
forms : 

(i) It is the beHef of many countrymen that the hare 
changes its sex every year, being male the first year and 
female the next.^ How can this extraordinary delusion 
be accounted for, except as a modification of that stouter 
paganism which attributed to witches the power of trans- 
forming themselves into the bodies of hares ? 

(2) There are many traditions of spectral hares, which 
haunt old buildings, and appear to partake of the nature 
of witches. Thus Bolingbroke Castle, in Lincolnshire, is 
or was haunted by a hare-spirit, which was often hunted 
with hounds without the slightest result." In Cornwall, a 
maiden, who has been deceived and dies, haunts her 
deceiver in the guise of a white hare, sometimes saving his 
life, but in the end causing his death.^ In Germany, too, 
there are many stories of spectral hares, especially of three- 
legged ones, " which", says Oberle, " is peculiarly note- 
worthy, because a three-legged ghost always points to 
some divinity".* 

VI. Another relic of the hare's former divinity is the 
reputation which this animal has acquired in folk-medicine. 
"This much", says Cogan, in his Haven of HealtJi, "will I 
say as to the commendation of the hare, and of the defence 
of the hunter's toyle, that no one beast, be it never so 
great, is profitable to so many and so divers uses in Phy- 
sicke as the hare and partes thereof"^ For examples of 
these medicinal virtues I must refer to Mr. W. G. Black's 
Folk-Medici)ie : a Chapter in the History of Culture.''^ And 
to the instances there collected by Mr. Black I may add a 
belief of the ancient Romans, that eating hare's flesh for 

^ Brand, Pop. Ant., iii, 38 1 ; Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epi- 
deinica, iii, chap. 17 ; Elton, op. cit., p. 286. 

2 Allen's History of the County of Lincoln, 1834, vol. ii, p. 105 ; 
Notes and Queries, 4th Series, iii, 103. 

3 F.-L. fournal, i, 87. * Oberle, op cit., p. 104. 

' P. 118 c F.-L. S., 1883, pp. 154,155. 

The Easter Hare. 


seven days would make any one beautiful ; a superstition 
to which Martial refers in one of his epigrams : 

" Si quando leporem mittis mihi, Gellia, dicis, 
' Formosus septem, Marce, diebus eris.' 
Si non derides, si varum, lux mea, narras, 
Edisti nunquam Gellia tu leporem."^ 

"You tell me, Miss Nancy, when sending a hare, 
'In a week it will make you quite handsome, I'll swear,' 
Now surely that 's chaff : if it 's true, my dear Nancy, — 
Hare's, clearly enough, not a dish that you fancy." 

The fact that many plants are named after the hare 
may also, as Oberle thinks, have a mythological signifi- 
cance ; though the origin of such names as " hare-bell" 
and "hare-parsley" appears sufficiently explained in Hone's 
Table-Book upon other grounds.- 

VII. The hare, or some part of it, is frequently used in 
magical channs Thus, Mr. Edward Peacock has recorded, 
in Notes and Queries, the discovery of the heart of a hare 
pierced with pins buried in the foundations of a house. 
When it was found, the "elders" of the village declared it 
had been buried there " to withstand witching".^ " In a 
village near Preston, a girl, when slighted by her lover, got 
a hare's heart, stuck it full of pins, and buried it with man)' 
imprecations against the faithless man, whom she hoped b)- 
these means to torment."^ 

In Egypt, the figure of a hare was worn as an amulet-' ; 
and hares' heads were worn as amulets by Arab women.*' 

VIII. From the evidence of existing agricultural customs 

^ Mart., Ep. v, 29. Cf. also Pliny, 28, 19, and Vet. Epig-. apud 
Lamprid ; Ale.x. Sev., 38. 

2 " Hare-bell," so called because it grows in thickets haunted by 
hares ; " hare-parsley", because it is eaten by hares. 

' Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, i, 415. See Grimm, T. M., 1824. 

* Henderson, Folk-lore of the Northern Counties, newed., Folk-lore 
Society, 1879. (The passage is not in the first edition.) 

5 A. Lang, op. cit., ii, 353. 

^ Robertson Smith, Religion of the ^^/////t'j, Edinburgh, 1889, p. 362. 


458 The Easter Hare. 

it appears that the hare was once a common embodiment 
of the corn-spirit. 

" In some parts of Ayrshire the cutting of the last corn 
is called ' cutting the hare', and in Germany the name for 
the last sheaf is ' the hare'. In east Prussia they say that 
the hare sits in the last patch of standing corn, and 
must be chased out by the last reaper." The reapers 
hurry with their work, each being anxious not to have to 
" chase out the hare" ; for the man who does so — that is, 
who cuts the last corn — is much laughed at. At Birk, in 
Transylvania, when the reapers come to the last patch, 

they cr)^ out, " We have the hare." At Aurich an 

expression for cutting the last corn is " to cut off the hare's 
tail". " He is killing the hare," is commonly said of the 
man who cuts the last corn in Germany, Sweden, Holland, 
France, and Italy. In Norway, the man who is thus said 
to "kill the hare", must give "hare's blood", in the form of 
brandy, to his fellows to drink. ^ 

IX. There are a few other apparent survivals of hare- 
ritual besides the customs we are investigating. 

(i) It is well known to all students of folk-lore^ that 
relics of ancient worship may often be discovered in those 
customary rents and services which comprise offerings of 
flowers or animals. It is therefore worth while to notice 
the survival in Shef^eld of a rent which consists of two 
white hares, to be paid on St. John's Day.^ 

(2) There is a nursery rhyme " whose antiquity and 
connection with sorcery", says Mr. Leland, "is very evident." 
It is as follows : 

" One, two, three, four, five, 

I caught a hare all alive ; 

Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 

I let her go again." 

Now Mr. Leland quotes from the Magical Spells of 

1 Frazer, The Golden Bought London, 1890, pp. 10- 11. 

2 I cannot bring myself to use the ugly word " folk-lorist". 
2 Elton, op. cil., 392. 

The Easter Hare. 459 

Marcellius Burdigalensis a charm, in which, after you have 
■" caught your hare", you pluck from it the fur needed ad 
doloreni coH, and then let it go again, bidding it carry the 
disorder with it. 

" Fuge, fuge, lepuscule, et tecum aufer coli dolorem." 
" In which", says Mr. Leland, " the hare appears as a 
scapegoat. It may be observed that all this ceremony of 
catching a hare, letting it go, and bidding it run and carry 
away the disorder, is still in familiar use in Tuscany."^ 

X. We have already noticed the very old and close con- 
nection between the hare and the moon. A large category 
of hare-myths have arisen out of the supposed likeness of 
the spots upon the moon's face to the figure of a hare. 
The story of the hare offering himself as a meal to the 
hungry Buddha, who in return translated him to the moon, 
is well known, and occurs with many variations in Eastern 
legend.- Indeed, the great moon-hare appears to have 
been an object of reverence in m.ost parts of the world ; and, 
to this day, little children in Swabia are told that it is 
wrong to make shadows of hares upon the wall, because 
they represent the sacred moon.^ And through its mytho- 
logical connection with the moon the hare acquires a 
special significance, which, by a strange coincidence, speci- 
ally entitles it to be associated with the Christian Easter. 
The moon's periodic death and revival suggest thoughts of 
Resurrection and Immortality. Thus, according to Taoist 
fable, the moon-hare is a slave of the genii, who employ it 
in pounding the drugs which compose the elixir of life. In 
the moon is a cassia-tree, and under the cassia-tree squats 
the lunar hare, always employed in concocting the im- 
mortal draught.^ In a curiously interesting myth, which 

^ Leland, Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune-Telling, London, 1891, pp. 

^ Harley, op. cit., p. 60, sqq. ; De Gubernatis, op. cit., II, chap. viii. 
Hence the Sanskrit name of the moon, Sasanka, i.e., "having the 
marks of a hare." 

3 Harley, p. 66. ■• Ibid., p. 64. 

H H 2 

460 The Easter Hare. 

is very widely prevalent in South Africa, the moon sends 
the hare to men to preach this Easter gospel : " Like as I 
die and rise to life again, so you also shall die and rise to 
life again." But the hare went to men and said : " Like 
as I die and do not rise again, so you shall also die and 
not rise again.'"' Then the hare returned and told the 
moon what he had done ; and the moon struck at him 
with a hatchet, and slit his lip, as it has remained ever 

There is a similarity also between the customs of the 
great Chinese Moon Festival and those which are still 
observed in England and Germany at the season of Easter, 
"This festival, known as the Yue-Ping (loaves of the 
moon), dates from the remotest antiquity. Its original 
purpose was to honour the moon with superstitious rites. 
On this solemn day all labour is suspended ; the workmen 
receive from their employers a present of money ; every 
person puts on his best clothes ; and there is merry-making 
in every family. Relations and friends interchange cakes 
of various sizes, on which is stamped the image of the 
moon ; that is to say, a hare couching amid a small group 
of trees.""- 

Last Easter, most of the toy and confectioners' shops in 
Berlin were filled with imitation hares and rabbits. These 
animals also figured largely on the Easter cards.^ If the 
resemblance of these German and Chinese customs is not 
a pure coincidence — for borrowing is almost out of the 
question — into what remote strata of the world's life must 
we delve in order to find their common ancestor ! 

XI. I may briefly mention some characteristics attributed 
to tlic Jiare in folk-tales, which seem to confirm the theory 
of this animal's extreme importance in prehistoric religion. 

1 Harley, p. 65 ; Tylor, Prim. Culture., i, 320 ; Anderson, Lake 
Ngami, 328 ; Bleek's Reynard the Fox in South Africa, London, 
1864, p. 72. 

2 Harley, pp. 104-105. 

3 Notes and (2ueries, 8th Series, i, 475. 

The Easter Hare. 461 

The impression he has left upon the popular mind, as 
expressed in legend and household tale, appears to be 
generally that of an exceptionally wise and crafty spirit, 
the guide of men, and the protector of other animals. A 
number of stories in which the hero or heroine is led by a 
guardian hare occur to the mind, e.g., the North German 
tale of " The Blue Riband". Sometimes, however, the hare 
leads the hero astray, as in the King of Erin's Tale, and 
Fionn's Enchantment,^ still, however, retaining a super- 
natural power. In the Kaffir Story of " The Great Chief of 
the Animals"- he acts as the guardian of children — a 
function he performs but indifferently. In the tales of 
many countries, from the kraals of the Kaffir to the 
plantations of Virginia, he is represented as the crafty 
guardian and shifty schemer among animals. In India, he 
outwits the elephant, and traps the lion in a well.^ In 
Greek and Latin proverbs, he draws the lion into a golden 
net,* and insults him when dead."^ In China, the hare 
appears, as in Kaffirland, as the guardian of the wild 
beasts, and defends the lamb from the wolf.^' In Slavonic 
tales the hare decoys the bear into a jungle,'^ and the 
princess who solves the riddles does so by the help of a 
hare.^ In Russia, as in China, the hare is associated with 
the Water of Life, which he goes to fetch from its spring 
in the company of a fox.^ 

1 Folk- and Hero-Tales from Argyllshire, F.-L. S., 1889, pp. 87-9, 
454, note. 

^ Theal's Kaffir Folk-lore, London, 1886, p. 176. Perhaps the hare 
is chosen as a leader for the same reason as that which causes him to 
be so often chosen as a messenger, viz., his swiftness and alertness. 
In the Kalevala he conveys the news of Aino's death, as he does 
that of the princess in the Zulu folk-tale. 

3 De Gubernatis, op. cit., ii, 76-7. 

^ Mortuo leoni lepores insultant. 

^ De Gubernatis, op. cit., ii, 79. 

7 Ibid.,^. 81. « Ibid., p. 82. 

° Ralston, Russian Folk-tales, London, 1873, P- -S^- 

462 The Eastei' Hare. 

XII. To descend to the region of prosaic fact, it should be 
noted as an essential link in the argument, that the hare 
was undoubtedly zvell known to tJie preJiistoric Aryan 
people, and in times still more ancient. 

" If we find sasa for hare in Sanskrit", writes Max 
Muller, "and Jiaso for hare in OHG, we need not hesitate 
to claim for the united Aryas an acquaintance with that 
animal."^ Remains of the hare have been found in 
Pleistocene cave deposits in England,^ and in the Belgian 
caves.^ Among the early British hares were as common as 
vermin.^ It is probable that this profusion, far from 
endangering the sanctity of the animal, actually enhanced 
it. Rare beasts are objects of terror to the savage, who 
generally takes his god [or totem from the familiar sur- 
roundings of his everyday life. Thus the frequent 
occurrence of the hare as a corn-spirit is naturally ex- 
plained by the fact that hares are the animals which most 
frequently took refuge in the last patch of standing corn, 
and, as they rushed out of it, were identified with the 
escajDing spirit of the crop.^ 

Now, taking all these groups of testimony into con- 
.sideration, we have, I think, such evidence of the deep and 
almost universal sanctity of the hare in prehistoric times 
as would lead us to expect that the ritual connected with it 
might very probably leave its mark upon popular custom. 
It remains to be shown that the form of the Easter cere- 
monies observed at Leicester and Hallaton is compatible 
with and suggestive of an origin in religious ritual. 

Now the essential features of these customs appear to be 
the following : 

I. They are municipal or corporate functions, acts of the 
whole community. 

^ Max Muller, BiograpJiies of Words, and t/ic Home of the Aryas, 
London, 1888, p. 145, and cf. p. 164. 

2 Geikie's FreJiistoric Europe, pp. 31, 87, 97. 

2 Ibid.,^. 103, 107-8. * Elton, op^. cit., p. 219. 

^ Frazer, op. cit., ii, 33-4. 

The Easter Hai'C. 463 

2. They entail a procession between a place of venerable 
antiquity outside the town and the house of the chief 
townsman (mayor or parson). 

3. The leading motive of both processions is a hare. In 
the one case, the hare is followed to the Mayor's house, 
where a feast is eaten. Whether this feast originally 
comprised hare's flesh, I have not been able to ascertain, 
though, from an entry in the Chamberlains' accounts, it 
appears that at one Easter Hunting a great many hares 
were caught,^ and these would presumably be used for the 
Mayor's banquet. At Hallaton, the hare is carried in 
procession (sometimes in the shape of hare-pies, sometimes 
also mounted on a pole) from the parson's house to a sacred 
spot on the boundary of the parish, where the feast of hare- 
pies is eaten. 

4. At the Hallaton festival penny loaves are distributed 
to the people — a common form of survival in sacrificial 

5. Both these rites take place on Easter Monday, at a 
season, that is, of special religious solemnity in the spring 
of the year. 

Thus the customs under review possess features which 
correspond upon the whole to the most prominent traits 
which we know must have distinguished certain religious 
ceremonies of prehistoric man. For, one of the greatest 
festivals observed by our early Aryan, perhaps by our pre- 
Aryan ancestors, must have comprised a similar public 
and communal procession, in which a god was carried 
round the district, and afterwards slain and eaten, and this 
festival took place in the spring of the year.- 

^ Anno 1671. " Itm pd to two and twenty men that brought and 
carried hares before Mr. Maior and the Aldermen by Mr. Mayor's 

^ It may indeed appear strange, at first sight, that a sacrificial 
procession should have resolved itself into a hunt ; but there are many 
instances of this amongst analogous customs, where the hunting of the 
wren, the squirrel, and the ram have been shown to owe their origin 

464 The Easter Hare. 

Before, however, we refer to this prehistoric ritual, let us 
consider another distinct factor in the problem. The 
Hallaton festival has preserved one feature, which is not 
mentioned in connection with the Leicester custom, the 
" Bottle-kicking". The " dummy-bottle", be it remembered, 
is simply a short log of wood ; and hence the custom may 
be similar to many of those observed so generally through- 
out Europe, in which the image of Death or Winter is said 
to be " carried out" in the Spring of the year.^ The essence 
of these customs consists in a figure of straw, a wooden 
box, or a log of wood, being borne out of the village, and 
either thrown away or drowned, or sawn through the middle, 
or burnt, or torn to pieces in a field. The figure which 
represents Death is often carried to the boundary of the 
village, as in the Hallaton custom, where it is sometimes 
pitched over the border, in which case the youth of the 
next parish resent the intrusion, and the two neighbouring 
villages come to blows about it- ; sometimes the image is 
only taken to the border of the parish, and there destroyed. 
The nature of the rivalry between the Hallatoniansand the 
men of Medbourne, which seems to point to some ancient 
feud not unknown in the history of adjacent parishes,^ 
presents a difficulty in the way of this interpretation of the 
bottle-kicking ; since the object of each parish is to obtain 
the image, not, as w^e should expect, to keep it away. This 
paradox is possibly capable of explanation upon the 
following grounds : The figure of Death (as it is called), as 
soon as its sacrifice is completed by its being thrown into 

to the sacrifice of those animals. Cf. Gomme, Village Cojiitiiimzties, 
London, 1890, pp. 1 12-13; Notes ajtd (2ucries^ ist Series, vol. vii, p. 


1 Frazer, op. cit., i, 257-78 ; Brand, op. cif., i, 112, note ; ibid., 1 17-8 ; 
Googe's Popish Kingdom, ed. R. C. Hope, 1880, p. 50 ; Dyer's British 
Pop. Customs, p. 118; Grimm, T. M., 764-76. For an account of 
" carrying out death" in Russia, see The Spectator for June i8th, 1892. 

^ See, ex. gr.. The Spectator, ]unt iSth, 1892. 

^ Gomme, Village Coinmimiiies, pp. i^'i-i\^ ; Gloucestershire Folk- 
lore, Printed Extracts No. i (F.-L. S., 1892), pp. 38-9. 

The Easter Hare. 465 

the hollow on the mound, is supposed to revive, and to be 
endovi^ed with a vivifying influence which is highly prized. 
Thus in Spachendorf (Austrian Silesia), the figure of Death 
is carried out to an open place outside the village, and there 
burned, and then a great struggle takes place for the pieces. 
Everyone who secures a fragment ties it to a branch of 
the tallest tree in his garden, or buries it in the ground. 
The same scramble for the fragments occurs in the Troppau 
district; and other instances in which a highly prized 
fertilising power is attributed to the figure of Death will 
be found in Mr. Frazer's Golden Bough} 

I think, then, that, at any rate in default of a better 
explanation, we may class this Hallaton bottle-kicking 
with the widely-prevalent spring ceremonies I have men- 
tioned.^ Space will not allow me to carry the argument 
any further ; but I will refer to the very elaborate and 
suggestive discussion of Mr. J. G. Frazer, in which he 
certainly makes out a very strong case for the view that 
this custom of " carrying out Death" is a survival of an 
ancient rite of sacrificing the Spirit of Vegetation in the 
spring of the year.^ And if upon the evidence of analogy, 

1 Vol. i, pp. 267-68. 

- I am not inclined to lay much stress upon the objection that most 
of these ceremonies occur not at Easter but in Mid-Lent ; for we 
often find popular customs transferred from their old dates to those of 
proximate modern festivals. Thus the old Berkshire ceremony of 
" Wetting the Block" takes place in some parts of the county on the 
first Monday in Lent, and in others on Easter Monday (Dyer, p. 119). 
And a custom which survived until recent years at University College, 
Oxford, and which seems also to bear traces of this rite of " carrying 
out Death", actually took place on Easter Day (Dyer, p. 167). The 
Hallaton custom may possibly be analogous to that of " Riding the 
Black Lad", which also takes place on Easter Monday, at Aston- 
under-Lyne ; in which case the effigy, after being carried round the 
town and shot at, is finally burned {Deiihayn Tracts^ vol. i, F.-L. S., 
1891, p. 103.) 

■^ Frazer, op. at., ii, 206-208, etc. Mr. Frazer thinks that the prac- 
tice of "carrying out Death" combines the two customs of killing the 
god and expelling evils annually by means of a scapegoat. 

466 The Easter Hare. 

and the further argument of Mr Frazer, we can trace back 
the Hallaton bottle -kicking to this source, we shall feel 
less difficulty in referring the procession and sacrifice of 
the hare to the same spring-ritual of old religion. Indeed, 
in Mr. Frazer's view, the sacrifice of the divine animal is 
but another version of the sacrifice of the Spirit of Vegeta- 
tion : both rites have a similar object, and belong to the 
same order of thought. The principle which inspired the 
savage hunter also guided the actions of pastoral and agri- 
cultural tribes. " Death" was originally an embodiment of 
the spirit of a tree or corn-field — its totem, in fact — and it was 
carried out and destroyed in order that the spirit, the life, 
of the tree or field might not perish, but might pass into the 
fresh leaves and the new crop. The effigy was beaten and 
kicked, not in order to intensify its sufferings or to express 
contempt, but " in order to dispel any malignant influences 
by which, at the supreme moment, the totem might con- 
ceivably be beset".^ Before he is slain he is promenaded 
from door to door, that each of his worshippers may receive 
a portion of the divine virtues which are supposed to 
emanate from the dead or dying god. " Religious pro- 
cessions of this sort", says Mr. Frazer, " must have had a 
great place in the ritual of European peoples in prehistoric 
times, if we may judge from the numerous traces of them 
which have survived in folk-custom." Among those traces 
may perhaps be included these two Leicestershire cere- 
monies of " Hunting the Hare" and " Kicking the Bottle". 

The sacrifice of the hare in spring-time, whether as a 
tribal totem or as a Spirit of Vegetation, may thus have 
survived, in faint and obscure traces, amongst the Easter 
customs of this nineteenth century. 

1 Frazer, op. cit., 214-15. 

Charles J. Billson. 


THE Dinnshenchas is a collection of legends, in Middle- 
Irish prose and verse, about the names of noteworthy 
places in Ireland — plains, mountains, ridges, cairns, lakes, 
rivers, rapids, fords, estuaries, islands, and so forth. And 
the Bodleian Dinnshenchas is an unfinished copy of this 
collection preserved in the Bodleian library, in ff. 11-15 of 
the manuscript marked Rawlinson B. 506. This codex, 
once the property of Sir James Ware, is on parchment, 
and may have been written at the end of the fourteenth 
or the beginning of the fifteenth century. It contains, 
so far as one can judge by comparison with other copies, 
about one-third of the prose part of the work. 

Five other copies of the Dinnshenchas are known, viz. : 

LL., the copy in the Lebar Laignech, or the Book of 
Leinster, a MS. of the middle of the twelfth century, of 
which a facsimile, in which many of the leaves are mis- 
placed, has been published by the Royal Irish Academy. 
Here most of the tales are told both in prose and in 
verse. But the prose versions, as found in the facsimile, 
are scattered through pp. 159, 160, and 165-170, and 
the so-called poems are in pp. 1 51-158, 161 -164, and 
191-216 ; 

BB., the copy in the Book of Ballymote (a vellum of 
the end of the fourteenth century, in the library of the 
Royal Irish Academy), pp. 349-410 of the facsimile ; 

H., H. 3. 3, a double-columned vellum, in quarto, ff. 36, 
of (I should say) the beginning of the fifteenth century. 
For a loan of this copy, which belongs to the library of 
Trinity College, Dublin, I am indebted to the Board of 
that College ; 

468 The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

Lee, the copy in the Book of Lecan, a fifteenth-century 
vellum in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, pp. 
461-525 ; and 

R., the copy in the Irish MS. in the town library of 
Rennes, ff 90-125. This excellent copy is perhaps fifty 
years older than BB. It has, unfortunately, lost a leaf 
between fo. 114 and fo. 115.^ In R., as in BB., H., and 
Lee, prose and poems are placed together. 

As to the date of the Dinnshenchas, O'Curry, Lectures, 
p. 108, states that it "was compiled at Tara about the year 
550". But this is one of his ludicrous exaggerations. The 
reference s. v. Laigin, to the " King of Denmark and the 
Isles of the Foreigners", i.e., the Hebrides, points to a 
period after the year 795. Dr. Petrie, Tara Hill, p. 105, 
advised in the matter by the cool-headed O'Donovan, calls 
the collection "a compilation of the 12th century"; and 
philological considerations prove that this is right, though 
some of the metrical materials may possibly be older. 
But whatever be their date, the documents as they stand 
are a storehouse of ancient Irish folk-lore, absolutely un- 
affected, so far as I can judge, by any foreign influence. 
See, for instance, in the following fragment, Nos. i, 6, 7, 9, 
10, 14, 15, 18, 22, 23, 24, 33, 16, 38, 43, 44, and 46. Hence, 
though the Bodleian Dinnshenchas contains only about a 
third of the prose part of the work, and though much of 
this third is silly or obscure, a faithful edition of the text, 
with a literal translation, will perhajDS be acceptable to the 
readers of this Review. 

^ It is said by O'Reilly, in his h'isJi Writers, p. cxxiii, that there is 
a copy of the Dinnshenchas in the so-called Book of Hy-Maini, one 
of the Stowe MSS. now in the library of the Royal Irish Academy ; 
and Dr. Petrie, Tara Hill, p. 109, note i, states that there is another 
copy in H. 2. 15, a MS. in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. 
But this copy is not mentioned in the description of H. 2. 15 given by 
O'Curry in his Lectures, p. 193, and I could not find it when I 
examined the latter MS. in last July. Lastly, M. Henri Gaidoz 
{Revue Celtique, vi, 113) says that there are two fragments of the 
Dinnshenchas in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 469 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 
(Rawl. B. 506, ff. 11^ 1—15^ 2.) 

IN nomine^ Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti amen sosis. 

Sencas dinn erinn DORigni Aimirgin mac Amal[ga]dha, fili 
dona Deissib .1. fili Diarmata m^/c Cerbaill. Is e dorat algais ior 
Fintan Bocra hi Tox^air dia mbae mordail fer nErinn hi 
Tem(7/> im Diarmait mac Cerbaill -) im Flann Febla m«c Scann- 
lain comarpa Patraic j im Cennfaelad mac Ailella raeic Eogain 
meic Neill ■] im Finntan mac Bochrai amm ardsenoir ILrenft, ■] coro 
throsc teora laithi ~j teora aithche ior Finntan hi fiadhnaisi fer 
nErenn sceo macu -] ingena hi Tema/>, co ndeics^.^ do senchasa 
fira dind insi hErind, fodeig rola each duine -] each dine di o 
aimsir Cessrai na hb/g/ne do Gr^caib Sceia — is i cetna rogab En'nn 
— CO flath«/i- Diarmata m^/c Cerbaill. Unde poeta dixit, Cuan .1. 
ua Lochan : 

Temair, taillti, tir n-oenaig.2 

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, 
amen, this below. 

The story of the noteworthy steads of Ireland, which Amirgin 
MacAulay, a poet of the Desi, to wit, the poet of Diarmait, son 
of Cerball, composed. 

He it is who made demand of Fintan, son of Bochra, at Tara, 
when there was a great gathering of the folk of Erin round 
Diarmait, son of Cerball, and Flann Febla, son of Scannlan, 
Saint Patrick's successor, and Cennfaelad, son of Ailill, son of 
Eogan, son of Niall, and Fintan, son of Bochra, the chief elder 
of Ireland. And Amirgin fasted on Fintan for three days and 
three nights in the presence of the men of Erin, both boys 
and girls, at Tara, so that Fintan might declare to him the true 
stories of the noteworthy steads of the Island of Erin, since he, 
Fintan, had dismissed (?) every person and every tribe from it 
from the time of Cessair, the maiden, of the Greeks of Scythia — she 
was the first that occupied Ireland — to the reign of Diarmait, son 
of Cerball. Hence said the poet, Cuan Ua Lochan, 
"Tara, Teltown, land of the assembly," etc. 

Also in BB. 349 a, and R. 90 a i. 

As to the D^si, see Topogr. Poems, ed. O'Donovan, p. Ixii, note 528. 

Diarmait mac Cerbaill was king of Ireland from A.D. 539 to 558, and as Flann 
Febla, bishop of Armagh, died A.D. 704, they could not have been contemporaries. 

As to Cennfaelad, see O'Curry's Lecfia-cs, pp. 47-49. 

Fintan, son of Bochra, fabled to have survived the Deluge, and died in the 
seventh century after Christ. 

Cessair, said to have been a granddaughter of Noah, and to have died A.M. 2242. 
See O'Mahony's Keating, pp. 106, 107. Her connexion with the "Greeks of 
Scythia" is unexplained. 

Cuan O'Lochain died A.D. 1024. 

^ MS. oimne. - I omit twenty stanzas, chiefly composed of 

stupid strings of place-names, and having no relation to any e.xisting 
copy of the Dinnshenchas. 

47o The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

[i. Temuir.] — Teamuir diu .1. Muir Tea ingine Lugdach 
vaaio. Itha dia luid la Geidi nOllgothar/z. Is 'na flaith sein ba 
bindidir la each nduine i nErind guth araille beitis teta m^/mchrota, 
ar met in tsi'da -] in tsamcuiri ■] in chaincomraic^ j na cairdine 
robai do each duine fn aroile i nErind, 3 is airi- da/zt* as [sjruithiu 
each mur .1. Tea-mur, [ii'^ !]•] is uaisliu each eoniarba a com- 
arba, fobith^ it e cetna"* soerehuir doronta i nErind .1. cuir Tea 
ingine Y^Vigdach maic Itha fn Gede nOlIgotha^/^. Unde Temuir. 
No is Tea bean Erimoin xaaic Miledh Esprtt///e roadhnrtf/z/ 
indte, et quod uerius est, ut poeta d/or/t : 

IN chetbean luid i n-uaigh^ uair 

don euan a Tur Breogrt/;? bain, 

Tea Bregha, bean ind righ, 

dia[na]dh ainm Tem?^z> fir Fail. 

Temuir, then, to wit, the mur ' rampart' of Tea, daughter of 
Eugaid, son of Ith, when she went with Geide the Loud-voiced. 
In his reign everyone in Erin deemed another's voice sweeter 
than strings of lutes would be, because of the greatness of the peace 
and quiet and the goodwill and friendship that each man had 
for the other in Ireland. Therefore, then, is Tea-m1ir more 
venerable than every rampart, and nobler than every heritor is its 
heritor, because the covenants of Tea, daughter of Lugaid, son of 
Ith, to Gede the Loud-voiced, were the first free covenants that 
were given in Erin. 

Or Tea, wife of Erimon, son of Mil of Spain, was buried therein. 
This is truer, as the poet said ; 

The first woman that went into a cold grave, 
Of the band from the Tower of white Breogan, 
Was Tea of Bregia, the wife of the King, 
From whom is the name ' true Temuir of Fal'. 

Also in LL. 159 a. The first paragraph is also in BB. 349 a, and in R. 90 a. 

Temuir, gen. Temrach, now Tara, the palace of the monarchs of Ireland down 
to the reign of Diarmait, son of Fergus Cerrb^l, when it was deserted owing to the 
curses of two saints, of whom one had been compelled by the king to surrender a 
murderer to justice. See the story of Diarniait's death, Egerton 1782, fo. 39 a, 2 ; 
O' Curry, M. and C, ii, 237. As to Fal, Mil of Spain, Lugaid, Erimon, and Geide, 
see O'Mahony's Keating, pp. 81, 175, 183, 195, 197, 200, 204, 205, 233. 

[2. Mag mBreg.] — Mag mBregh .1. Brega ainm daim Dile .1. 
Dil ingen Lugmannrach, dodechaidh a Tir Tairrngire, no a tir 
Falga, la Tuilchaine druidh Conaire Moir maic Eitirseeoil vnaic 
Meissi Buaehalla. I n-oenuair dvino rogenir o mmath^/r in Dil sin 
~] rue in bo in loegh .1. Falga a ainm. Rocar iarum ingen ind 
rig in loeg sech na hindile olcena, ar rogenir a n-oenuair fria, j 

^ MS. ambet ansida 7 insamcuirie 7 in caincomraith. '^ MS. airie. 
^ MS. repeats. ■* MS. cen;mo. ^ MS. uaidh. 

The Bodleian D inns henc has. 471 

f^remidh Tulchaine a tabairt-si co twcadh a dam le. Robo duaP do 
%idt in Morrigan, ■] rogaid-sium di tabairt do na himana sin co 
mbeith im-Maig Olgaide .1. cetna ainm in maige,'-(3 rochar Brega 
in mag sin). Unde Mag mBregh dicitur. 

No comad o Breoga mac Bveogain lasro slectad in mag no 
hainmnig[the]a, et quod uerius est, et unde poeta dLxi't : 

Mag mBreogrt:, buaid ar mbunaidh, 
CO Tuaim Trebain cen trelaim, 
sinds^fr na laech dar leru, 
Breog'a, rogab for Bregai^. 

Mag mBng, to wit, Brega, the name of Dil's ox, that is 
Dil, daughter of Lugh-mannair, who went from the Land of 
Promise, or from the land of Falga, with Tulchine, the druid of 
Conaire the Great, son of Etirscel, son of Mess Buachalla. In 
the same hour that Dil was born of her mother the cow brought 
forth the calf named P\alga. So the king's daughter loved the 
calf beyond the rest of the cattle, for it was born at the same 
time (that she was) ; and Tulchine was unable to carry her off until 
he took the ox with her. The Morrigan was good unto him, and 
he prayed her to give him that drove so that it might be on 
Mag nOlgaidi, (which was) the first name of the plain; (and Brega 
loved that plain). Hence Mag mBreg is (so) called. 

Or maybe it was named from Breogan, by whom the plain 
was cleared. This is truer, and hence the poet said : 

Mag Breoga, palm of our origin, 
As far as Tuaimm Trebain without weakness.^ 
The eldest of the heroes over seas, 
Breoga, overcame Brega. 

Also in BB. 406 b 45 ; Lee. 517 a ; R. 122 b i. 

Mag fit Br eg (also Bregmag), the name of a large plain in East Meath. 

"The Land of Promise", one of the names for Fairy-land. 

"The land of Falga" (or "of the men of Falga") seems to have been a name 
for the Isle of Man. O'Curry, Lectures, 588, note 172. 

Conaire the Great, the hero of the Bruden Da-Derga, said to have been king of 
Ireland, and killed by outlaws B.C. 40. His druid, or rather buffoon {druiA), is 
described in LU. 92 b — 93 a. 

The Alorrfgan {morigai/i, g\. lamia, Regina 215, fo. loi), one of the Tuatha D6 
Danann. See infra, s.v. Berba. 

The Breogan "here mentioned is, perhaps, the Spanish sovran in Keating, 
pp. 178, 179, 196. 

[3. Laigin.] — Laigin a laginis uocatur .1. donaib laignib lethan- 
glassaib dombe?rtsat leo na Dubgaill dar muir anall .1. da CiV ar 
fichit cet a li'n maroen la l^ohraid I.oingsech Moen, m^c Ailella 
Aine maic Loega/r/ Luirc raaic \Jgaini Moir. IS ond Labraidh 
sin ille fil grain •] geretacht •] omun j urfuath {or Laig;//<5' etir firu 
Erenn. Ar ba mor ind neim ^ in duabais -j in duaig ro himredh 

1 dual .1. maith, O'Dav. 79. - MS. muigie. 

^ trealamh, weakness, O'R. 


The Bodleian D inns Iienc has. 

{or \js\gnib, foraib feisin ri tiachtu adocum nErind. Conid de 
asbeir ind rigfili Find mac Rossa Ru[a]idh : 

Moen doen obanoed nimbodnos ardri orgg rigu rohud an loech 
huae luirc Labraidh lathi duabsi gasait inna lamaib laignai 
Laigein iarsin gniset catha cota ler lerga iath nErimoin is arlebur 
loicheit loingsech longais flaith Goedal [ii^ 2] gabais grib ind rig 
iath aneoil ua Luirc Labraid. 

Loegairi Lore, tra, meic [leg. mac] Ugaine Mair, is e senathair 
Laigen, unde Laigin 6.idtur. 

No [i]s laigin ordai -] airgididi doronsat cerdada Erinn do 
Labraid 'Lomgsech dia tudcaid ~^ Ernoll iwac rig Danmarg -\ Indse 
Gall laiss. Et is e ro ort in rigraid in nDind [Rig], eonid de na 
laigne sin ro imirthea {or in rigraid i nDind Rig 3 {or Cohfliach 
Coelbreg rig Ere«;? m^c Ug(^/;^/, ~\ conid o sain alle asbd'/'ar Laig/« 
fnu, conidh de desin asbeir in sench^zV/ : 

Labraidh l^omgsech, lor al-lin, 
ro ort Cohthach i nDind Righ, 
cossluag Laignech dar^ linn Lir 
dib rohainmni[g]edh Laig?';?. 

Tuaimm Tenma [a] ainm ria sin 
cnuic in^ rog[n]iad inn orgain : 
is Dind Rig o sain alle 
6 marbadh'^ na rigraidhe. 

Da cet zx fichit c'et Gall 
CO \?i\gnib leathna'* leo anall : 
dona laignib tuctha insin 
de ata Laig/;z {or Laig;///^ 

Laigin, ' Leinster', so called from laginae, the broad green 
lances which the Black Foreigners brought with them over 
sea from the Continent. Two thousand and two hundred was 
their number along with Labraid Loingsech the Dumb, son of 
Ailill of Aine, son of Loegaire Lore, son of Ugaine the Great. 
From the time of that Labraid, among (all) the men of Ireland, 
the Leinstermen are famed for championship and (for causing) 
horror, and fear, and dread. For great was the virulence and the 
ill-luck, and the misfortune that was inflicted upon the Leinster- 
men, on themselves, before Labraid came to Ireland. Where- 
fore saith the king-poet Find, son of Ross the Red, Moejt doen, 
etc. [untranslatable by me]. 

Loegaire Lore, then, son of Ugaine the Great, he is the 
ancestor of the Leinstermen. Hence ' Laigin' is so called. 

Or it is the golden and silvern lances which the craftsmen of Erin 
made for Labraid Loingsech when he came along with Ernoll, 

1 MS. inserts in. ^ ^3 i^a. ^ MS. ommarbadh. * MS. repeats. 

T/ie Bodleian Dinnskenchas. 473 

son of the King of Denmark and the Western Isles. And it is 
he that slew the king-folk in Dinn Rig, and those lances were 
plied upon the king-folk in Dinn Rig, and on Cobthach Slender- 
neck, King of Ireland, son of Ugaine. So thenceforward the 
Leinstermen are called Laigin. Wherefore saith the shanachie : 

Labraid Loingsech, sufficient their number. 
Slew Cobthach in Dinn Rig, 
With a host of lancers over Ler's pool : 
From them Leinster was named. 

"Tuaimm Tenma" was the name before that 
Of the hill on which the slaughter was wrought. 
It is " Dinn Rig" thenceforward, 
From the killing of the king-folk. 

Two thousand two hundred foreigners. 
With broad lances from the continent : 
From the lances which were borne there 
Hence the Leinstermen are called '' Laigin". 

Also in LL. 159 a ; BB. 357 a ; R. 94 b 2. 

Laigin, now Leinster. Insi Gall, the Hebrides. 

The first of the etymologies here given is adopted by Keating, p. 90. 

As to Loegaire Lore, Cobthach Slenderneck, and Labraid Loingsech, see 
Keating, pp. 250-254. 

The remains of Dinn Rfgh, " Height of Kings", one of the two royal seats in 
Leinster, are near Leighlin Bridge, to the west of the Barrow. 

As to the slaughter which there took place, see LL. 48 b 10, 192 a 37, and 269 a. 

" Ler's pool", a kenning for the sea. 

[4. Mag Liphl] — Mag Lipi, cidh dia ta ? 

Ni ansa .1. Lipi \iis:en Candain Curcaig^ luid la Deltbanna mac 
nDruchta, la dalem Conaire Moir riig Temr^z. A Sid Buidb er 
Femin dosaide. A[r] robo alaind leaa in mag dara tainic, ni^ ro 
gaib acht a hainm fair. 

Lipi luchair, lor do blaid, 
mgen Cannain cetcurcrt/^.- 
dia hainm dogar[ar] a mag 
dia tudhcaid a tir Temrach. 

" Mag Liphi," whence is (the name ?) 

Not hard (to say).-^ Liphe, daughter of Cannan Curcach, eloped 
with Deltbanna, son of Drucht, with the cup-bearer of Conaire 
the Great, King of Tara. From Sid Buidb on Femen was he. 
Since the plain over which she passed seemed beautiful to her, she 
took nought save her name (to be) upon it. 

1 MS. curcaid. ^ MS. nir. 

3 To save space, the translation of this common form will hence 
forward be omitted. 

VOL. III. ^ ^ 

474 T^^^^ Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

Liphe, the Bright, enough of fame, 
Daughter of Cannan Cetchurcach, 
From her name is called the plain 
To which she came out of Tara's land. 

Also in LL. 159 a 26 ; BB. 358 a 14 ; H. 17 b ; and R. 95 a i. 
Mag Lipid, a plain in the co. Kildare, through which the river Liffey winds. 
As to Conaire the Great, see above, No. 2. 

Sid Buidb, "the Fairy mound of Bodb", one of the Tuath d6 Danann; men- 
tioned infra, Nos. 18, 20. Femen, a plain nearCashel, co. Tipperary. 

[5. Loch Garrian,] — Loch Carman, cid dia da? 
Ni hani^rt. Garman mac Bommallecce robaidedh ann la Cath(i/> 
Mor ri YAenn^ [uair rochoill in Garman] a rechtga •] a dirgedetaid 
imme oc Feiss Temrac/i .1. mind oir na rigna tall a Tig Mid- 
cuarta, ~\ nomarbadh a mmuintir,^ ar ba dibfrgach ■] foglaid he. 
Unde [poeta :] 

Mac Boma lecce luaidmi 

in ri CathrtzV romm-baidi, 

Garmman a ainm in ardfir 

tria bair^nib cona bad ri.^ 

No comma Carmman Glass mac Degad on n-ainmni[g]der, 
cuius frater Dea a quo Inbir nDea'] Abann Dee hi crich Cualann. 

Garman, son of Boimm Lecce, was drowned therein by Cathair 
the Great, King of Ireland. For that Garman broke the king's 
law and justice at the Feast of Tara, to wit, he stole the queen's 
golden diadem out of Tech Midchuarta, and he used to kill her 
household, for he was a brigand and a robber. Hence the poet : 

Boimm Lecce's son we announce : 

Cathair the king drowned him — 

Garman was the high man's name 

Thro' bardic poems — so that he might not be a king. 

Or maybe it was named from Carman Glass, son of Dega, whose 
Ijrother was Dea, from whom (are named) Inber Dea and Abann 
Dea, in the district of Cualu. 

Also in LL. 159 a 37; BB. 370 b; Lee. 468 a; H. 24 b ; and R. 102 b 1. 

Lock Garman, now Wexford Haven, Chron. Scot. , p. 393. 

CathAir the Great, over-king of Ireland, a.d. 122 (or 120). 

/fiber Dea, " estuary of the Dea", the mouth of the Vartry river, co. Wicklow. 

Abhanti. Dea, the Vartry river. 

[6. Fid nGaibli.] — Fidh nGaibli, cid dia ta? 

Ni ansa .1. Gabol mac Ethamdain maic Eciss tall gnnne 
nAnge ingine in Dagdai rotheclainn s/^e do denam drochtai di, 
ar in droctai'' donidh in Dagda [12=' i] ni anad do tinsaitain cen 
nobidh in muir ior tuile, ni t[u]ctha banna ass cein ba haithbe 

1 MS. romarbad a mmuindtir. ^ In the MS. this quatrain follows 
the next sentence. ^ Translated 'bridge' by Prof. Atkinson. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 475 

ann. Tarlaicc erchur iarum Gaible don gnnni sin a Beluch 
Fu[a]laiscaig corragaib^ foss, ^ co forbairt in chaill ass ior each 
leth ; conidh de sin ata Fidh nGaiblie innossa. 

Noo, do;?^, 6nd- abaind dianidh ainm Gobul fil i rind da 
cluana .1. Cluai/^ Sasta ~\ Cluana Moir, ■] tiruirthes tria Fidh 
nOaible, ut ipse Berchanz/jr d/^v/t : 

IS inmain in Gobul-sa, 
is uaidi [a] ainmnigud 
ior leith ind feda-sa,^ 
a rad ni ro : 
in gem-sa charmocail, 
i n-ucht na cluana-sa, 
tall^ sluagh mor fo. 
et quod est uerius. 

Gabol, son of Ethamdan, son of Eces, stole the faggot which 
Ange, daughter of the Dagda, had gathered to make a tub there- 
out. For the tub which the Dagda had made would not cease 
from dripping while the sea was in flood, (though) not a drop 
came out of it during the ebb. Then Gaible made a cast of that 
faggot from Belach Fualascaig till it settled, and the wood grew 
out of it on every side. Hence Fid nGaibli is now (its name). 

Or, then, from the river named Gobul, which is at the point of 
two <:/^m//^i' ('lawns'), to wit, Cluain Sasta and Cluain Mor. And 
it runs (?) through Fid nGaibU. As Berchan himself said : 

Dear is this Gobul : 

From it is the appellation 

On the half of this wood : 

To say so is not overmuch. 

This gem of carbuncle, 

In the breast of this lawn, 

Carried off" a great, good host. 
And this is truer. 

Also in LL. 159 a 50 ; BB. 357 b 33 ; R. 95 a ; H. 17 a. 

Fid nGaibli, anglicised Feeguile, the name of a wood in Leinster, in which 
S. Berchan erected the church of Clonsasta, situated in the parish of Cloonsast, 
barony of Coolestown and King's County. O'Don. , Topogr. Poems, p. 11 ; Book of 
Rights, 214, note o. 

The Dagda Mor, son of Ethliu (LL. 266b 38), was one of the leaders of the 
Tuatha D6 Danann. See Revue Celtique, xii, 125, and Keating, pp. 141, 143. 

.\s to S. Berchan of Clonsast, see O'Curry, Lectures, pp. 353, 409, 412. 

[7. MiDE.] — Mide, mac si[d]e Brata ma/c Deatha. Is air ba 
Midi a ainm, fodaig is e roata tenidh i n-Erind i tossach ria tascar 
clainde Nemid, co ro leath fo Erind uile, ^ co raba secht xvioXiadna 
for lassad, conidh on tenidh sin rohadnadh each primteni [^] each 

1 MS. corrabaib. "' MS. onda. ^ ]\is. fiadasa. < MS. talla. 

1 I 2 

476 The Bodleian Dinnskenchas. 

primtellach i nErind, conid[d]esin dli[g]es a comarba [miach la 
muic] cacha cleithi i nEr/;/;?, co nderbratar druide Yjxenn: "Is 
mide duin in tene-sa rofatad^ isin tir." Luidh Mide j b^;2tais a 
tengtha a cennaib na ndruadh, ~^ dobeir leis co mbatar hi talmain 
Uisnigh fo suide. Conid aim asbert Eriu ingen hUmoir, muime 
Mide \?,ed& : " Is uais neach atat[h]ar sund [innocht]," ol sisi. 
Unde Vi\%nech ^ Mide dicuntur. 

Mide, he was the son of Broth, son of Death. This is why 
Mide was his name, because it is he that first Ht a fire in Erin 
before the expedition"-^ of the children of Nemed. And the fire 
spread throughout the whole of Erin, and for seven years was it 
ablaze. And from that fire were kindled every chief fire and 
every chief hearth in Ireland. Wherefore Mide's successor is 
entitled to a sack (of corn) with a pig from every house-top in 
Ireland. And the druids of Erin said : " Hateful (ymide'') to us is 
the fire that hath been kindled in the land." (Whereupon) Mide 
went and cut the tongues out of the heads of the druids, and 
took them with him, and buried them under him in the ground 
of Uisnech. So then Mide's foster-mother, Eriu, daughter of 
Umor, said this: " Haughty (//^/V) is someone {necJi) to-night!" 
saith she. Hence "Uisnech" and " Mide" are said. 

Also in BB. 356 b ; H. 6 a ; and R. 94 a 2. In verse, LL. 199 b 34. 

See O'Curry, Manners and Customs, ii, 191. 

Mide, now Meath. Uisnech, now Usnagh Hill, co. West Meath. 

The "children of Nemed", the second colonists of Ireland. See Keating, 121. 

Eriu, daughter of Umor. She is called Gairech in R. , Gairi in BB. 

[8. EiTHNE.] — Eith;/^ cidh diata? 

Ni ansa .1. EixtiNi, ingen echach Feidlig,^ mdthah Furb- 
aidhi xaaic Concoba/r ma/c Nessa, dochoidh o Emain Maiche 
siar com-Meidb Cruachrt« dia hassait, fobith asbert in drui fria 
Clothraind mac a seathar dia marbad. Luidis da;?^' dia fo- 
thrucadh isin abaind, co tard in sruth buille fuirre, co ros-baidh. 
Luidh ^o)io Lu[g]aidh Mac con, co tucc in vcuiz trena toeb 
ammach .1. Furbuide, -] is de sin ata Eith;/^ for[s]an abaind ~] 
Carnn Ywxbaidi uastu ^edo.. Unde poeta d/r/t : 

Yi\\\\ne \ndthak maic in rig, 
i;?^(?i^ Echach Feidlig fiV: 

^ MS. indesa itened rofhata mide. 

- /ajifar " expedition" : so the word is rendered in Ir. Nennius, p. 
Ixx, 1. 16. O'Clery explains it as "a fleet", "an assembly", "emigrants". 

^ So O'Clery: Midhe .1. droichthene, "a bad fire", Rev. Celt., v, 23. 
But O'Curry, Manners and Customs, ii, 191, seems to render mide by 
" insult". It is probably from an Old-Celtic mitio-s, cognate with Gr. 
ytt£(T09 from initsos, and N.H.G. nieiden. 

* MS. E.\THAC feidlid. ^ MS. eath^ec/i feidlid fir. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 477 

treithi tallad, borb in maid, 
Furbuide m<zc Concobair. 

Eithne, daughter of Eochaid Feidlech, mother of Furbaide, 
son of Conor mac Nessa, went from Emain Macha westward to 
Maive of Cruachu, for her lying-in, because the druid had said 
to Clothru that her sister's son would slay her. Then Eithne 
went to bathe in the river, whereupon the stream struck her and 
drowned her. Then Lugaid Mac con went and brought the boy, 
even Furbaide, forth through her side.^ And hence " Eithne" 
is the name of the river, and " P^urbaide's Cairn" over him. 
Hence said the poet : 

Eithne, the mother of the king's son, 

Daughter of true Eochaid Feidlech : 

Through her was cut away — savage the breach (?) — 

Furbaide, son of Conor. 

This story is not, so far as I know, contained in any other copy of the Dinn- 

The river Eithne, anglicised Inny, divides the present county of Longford from 
the western half of Westmeath, Topogr. Poems, p. ix. 

Eochaid Feidlech, over-king of Ireland, had three daughters, Ethne, Clothru, 
and Medb. Ethne was married to Conor mac Nessa, by whom she had Furbaide, 
who afterwards, in vengeance for his father's death, slew his aunt Medb with a 
lump of tanach (hard cheese), LL. 124 b 34; O'Curry, M. and C, ii, 240, 241, 
where O'Curry misrenders tanach by "stone". 

As to Lugaid Mac-con, see the Battle of Magh Mucrama, Eev. Celt., xiii. As 
to Furbaide's cairn on the top of Sliab Uillend, LL. 199 a 53. 

[9. Bri L^ith.] — Bri Leith, cid diata ? 

Ni ansa .1. Liath uac Celtchair Cualand, mac fiatha as 
coeme boe a sith nErind, rocarastar Bri Bruachbreac ing/« [12^ 2] 
Midir Morglondaig. Docoidh o ingenraid co mboi ic Fertai na 
ningen h[i] toeb Temrach. Lotar na macoime immach co 
Tulaich na hiarmaithrige, -\ nir' lecseat tableore sida Mideir 
secha sin, ar ba lir bechtheillinn il-lo- ainle [imfrecra] a ndibraicthe,-' 
CO ro brissed ann Cachlan gilla Leith, [co n-apad. Ims6i in 
ingen do Bri Leith, co ro bris a cride inti,] co ndebairt Liath : 
" Cenco roussa in ingzV?, is mo ai[n]m sea bias fuiri." Unde Bri 
Leith T Dind Cochlain. 

Liath mac Celt[ch]air Cualann coir 
carais mgen Midir moir. 
Bri Bruachbrecc, buadach co mblaidh,'* 
nistas rainic mac Celt[ch]air. 

Liath, son of Celtchar of Cualu, a prince's son, the fairest 
that dwelt in a fairy-mound in Erin, loved Bri Bruachbrec, 

1 The Cccsarean operation by which Furbaide was brought forth is 

mentioned in LL. 125a 3 (is triana t^ib tucsat na claidib in Furbaide) 
and 199a 45 (tuc a mmac tria tael3 immach). 

2 MS. beichtheilliun olio. = MS. ndibergaigthe. * MS. mblaigh. 

478 The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

daughter of Mider of the Mighty Deeds. She went from her 
maidens till she was at Fertae na n-Ingen (" The Maidens' 
Grave-mound") beside Tara. Liath and his boys went forth to 
Tulach na hiarmaithrige, and the slingers of Mider's fairy-mound 
did not let them pass, for as numerous as swarms (?) of bees on 
a beautiful day was the mutual answer of their castings. So 
Lochlan, Liath's gillie, was wounded by them, and he died. The 
maiden turns to Bri Leith, and there her heart broke. So Liath 
said : "Though I shall not attain the maiden, my name shall be 
upon her." Hence " Bri Leith" (Liath's Bri) and "Dinn Cochlain" 
(Cochlan's Height). 

Liath, son of just Celtchar of Cualu, 
Loved great Mider's daughter, 
Bri Bruachbrecc, gifted, famous, 
Celtchar's son did not attain her. 

Also in BB. 408 b 34 ; H. 68 b ; R. 124 b i. 

Bri Liith, west of Ardagh, in the present co. of Longford ; Cualu in the co. 
Wicklow. See O'Curry, M. and C, iii, 350, 357, where he renders bi-uachhrec 
(" speckle-belhed") by " of the freckled face"; Tulach va hiarmaithrige by " Hill 
of Pursuit"; tabieoiri (derived from taball, " sling", W. ta^) by " warders", and 
h-iiiimi (which he compares with W. tefyn, "harp") by " humming wild bees". 

As to the elf-king, Mider of Bri L6ith, see Windisch's Ir. Texte, i, 115, 116, 876; 
and O'Curry, M. and C, ii, 192-194 ; iii, 191. See also infra, s.v. Mag Crtiachan. 

[10. ToNN Clidna.] — Tonn Chdna, cid dia t[a] ? 

'i:i\ ansa .1. Clidna ingen Genaind uaic Triuin dodechaidh 
a Tulaigy da Roth, im-Maig Mell Tiri Tairrngiri la hluchna 
Ciabfhaindech do rochtain M<?/c ind Oc. Dorat sede breic immpe. 
R[os]hepain ceol di isind noidh credumai a mboi, conatuil fris ] 
[im]roi a seol frithrosc co tudhchaidh timcell nEiind fodes, co 
toracht Clidhna. 

Is e tan connuargaib in murbrucht nemf<9rcennach co ro 
scaile^ fo cricha in betha frecnai[r]c. Fodeig roptar he tri mortuile 
Erind ind inbaid sin .1. Tuile Clidna 3 Tuili Ladhra^ 3 Tuili Bale. 
Ackt ni [i n-]aen uair conuargaibsit. Robed in tuile meodonach 
Tuile Ladra. 

Dorimmart tra in tuile i n-ardda 3 fodaili fo tir nErind, co 
tarraid* in curach ut ^ ind ingen ina collad ind, ft'rsan tract, cor' 
baided ann sin Clidna Cruihach inge[n] Genainn.'' Unde Tonn 

Clidna, daughter of Genann, son of Tren, went from Tulach 
da Roth ("the Hill of Two Wheels") in the Pleasant Plain of the 
Land of Promise, with luchna Curly-locks, to reach Mace ind 
Oc. luchna practised guile upon her. He played music to 

^ MS. tulaidh. - MS. neOTf<?rcen?zachneadact roscaile. 

3 MS. Radhra. ^ MS. tarraig. " MS. Gena ainn. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 479 

her in the boat of bronze wherein she lay, so that she slept. 
And he turned her course back, so that she went round Ireland 
southwards, till she came to Clidna. 

This was the time that the illimitable sea-burst arose and 
spread through the districts of the present world. Because there 
were at that season three great floods of Erin, to wit, Clidna's 
flood, and Ladra's flood, and Bale's flood. But not in the same 
hour did they arise. Ladra's flood was the middle one. 

So the flood pressed on aloft, and divided throughout the land 
of Erin, till it overtook yon boat with the girl asleep in it, on the 
strand, and there was drowned Clidna, the shapely daughter of 
Genann. Hence " Tonn Clidna" (Clidna's Wave). 

Also in LL. i68b i ; BB. 374 a 2; H. 27 b ; and R. 

Tonn Chlidna, " the ancient name of a strand and the waves that broke over it, 
situated in or near the bay of Clock na Cot lite (Clonakilty), on the coast of the 
county of Cork" (O'Curry, Lectures, p. 306) ; " a loud surge in the bay of Glandore, 
much celebrated by the Irish poets" (O'Donovan, Topogr. Poems, p. Ixvi ; Keating, 
pp. 205, 568). For the legend see Four Masters, a.d. 1557, note h, and Magh 
Lena, p. 95. 

luchna. Another luchna seems an alias for Echaid Echb^l (Horsemouth), as to 
whom see Cormac's Glossary, s.v.Jir, and LL. 160 b 37, 169 b 46. 

Mace ind Oc, sometimes called in Mac Oc or Oengus Oc (in LL. 266 a), son of 
the Dagda and Boann, infra, No. 36. Some of the many tales about him are 
noticed by Rhys, Hibbert Lectures, 144 et seq. 

I adra, the first man that died in Ireland, Four Masters, A.M. 2242. 

Bale, formally = the Homeric BoAicis, can hardly be the Bale mac Buain of a 
story printed in O'Curry's Lecittres, pp. 472-74. 

[11. Sliab Bladma.] — Slirt<5 WLadfiia cid diata? Ni ansa .1. 
Bladma 9i6 Blod m^c Con xnaic Caiss Clothmi'n^ romarb buachaill 
Bregmael gabann Cuirchi xnaic Snithi rig Ua Fuatta. Doluid 
iarum ina noedin- corro gab h[i] Ross Bladma, Ross n-Air a 
ainm artus. Doluidh assen isin sliab. Unde est ^Mab 'Siadrcia. 
Unde poeta dixit^ : 

Blod mac Con maic Caiss Clothmin 

romarb buach^// Bregmail bain, 

gabann Cuirche moir xnaic Snithi, 

rogab hi Ross Tiri inn air. 

No is e Blodh xxiac 'Qxeogain is marb ann ~] is ua[d] ro hain- 
mniged* mons 'EAadtna. 

Bladma or Blod, son of Cii, son of Cass Clothmin, killed the 
cowherd of Bregmael, the smith of Cuirche. son of Snithe, King 
of Hiii Fuatta. Then he went in his little boat till he set up at 
Ross Bladma — Ross n-Air, " Wood of Slaughter," was its name 
at first. Thence he went to the mountain. Hence is " Sliab 
Bladma" (Bladma's Mountain). 

^ MS. clothaigmin. ^ MS. nodein, ^ MS, dr. ^ MS. liainmniag-. 

480 The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

Whence the poet said : 

Blod, son of Cii, son of Cass Clothmi'n, 
Killed the cowherd of fair Bregmael, 
The smith of Cuirche M6r, son of Snithe : 
He set up at Ross Tire ind Air.^ 

Or it is Blod, son of Breogan, that died there ; and from him 
the mountain of Bladma was named. 

Also in LL. 159 b 17 ; BB. 357 b 23 ; H. 17 a ; and R. 94 b 2. 

Sliah Bladma, anglicised Slieve Bloom, in King's county, Keating, 457; "on 
the frontiers of the King's and Queen's Counties", O'Don. Topogr. Poems, Iviii. 
Here rise the three rivers, Siuir, Nore, and Barrow. 

Ross Tire ind Air, "the Wood of the Land of the Slaughter". Blodh mac 
Brcogain, spelt Bladh in Keating, p. 175 

[12. Mag Raigni.] — Magh Raig;>// cid dia ta ? 
Ni ansa .1. Raigne romanach DODECHAidh 2? tirib Roman, 
^ ruam 3 bacc fri aiss, iar tuaslugadh in murgabail im^ Thorinis 
nglain hi tirib Franc, fn tri la. Adagastar opair n-aile samlaid do 
tabairt fair. Roteich iarum c6 toracht co himlech xaaic Echonn. 
[i2b i] Robo druim fidhbaide uile essen, co ro selaigh Roigne he 
dia bacc 3 dia ramaind. Unde Mag Roigne. 

Ese roselaigh* in magh 

[Roigne] ro nirt, Romanach, 

dia luid a^ Torinis tair 

{or elud, {or imgabail. 

Raigne, the Roman, went from the lands of the Romans, with 
a spade and a billhook on his shoulder, after letting out, in three 
days, the inlet round Tours the Pure, in the lands of France. 
He feared that another work like it would be imposed upon him. 
So he fled till he came to Imliuch m^/c Echonn. That was 
(then) all a wooded ridge, so Roigne cut it down with his billhook 
and his spade. Hence " Mag Roigne" (Raigne's Plain). 

It is he who cleared the plain, 

Roigne the Mighty, the Roman, 

When he went eastward from Tours, 

Fleeing away, avoiding. 

Also in LL. 159 b 28 ; BB. 373 a 25 ; H. 26 b ; Lee. 482 b ; and R. 104 a. 
Magk Raigni is a plain in the barony of Kells, co. Kilkenny. See Four 
Masters, A.D. 859, note t, and the Calendar of Oengiis, note at Sep. 17. 
Imliuch male Echonn, not identified. 

[13. Tethba.] — Tethbfa cidh dia ta ? 

Ni afisa.^ Teathfa ingen ^chac/f Aireaman'^ roscar mac 

1 " The Wood of the Land of the .Slaughter." 2 ^S. dodech- 

aigh hi. "^ MS. in. * ms. ese?? roselaidh. ^ ms. hi. 

^ MS. repeats this and the five preceding words. "MS. eathW;, 
** marg. sup. 710 (?), Teathba ingen Ugaine, 

The Bodleian Dinnshenc/ias. 48 1 

Nectain Findgu[a]laig o Loch^ Lein, Noisi a ainm. Roboi a 
muime s/</e Eittech mgen Lennglaiss ma/c Luind, de Glomraide 
Tracta Tuirbi d6. Dochoidh la Tethfa ^ la Noissin xxvac Ne^/j/ain 
Findgualaig,^ co toracht Ard n-Umai. " Bid tesbaid do cum- 
tuc[h] in tire-se mo dula-sa ass," ol ind ingen. 

"Ni ba fir son," ar a ceile, "ar ni teiseba do slonniud don tir. 
AcJit bid teidmnech in daiP brethri facbaisiu fc;/-sin tir sea." 
" Fot-lile cuma de,"* ior seat. 

Ba fir son disi, daigh atbath Etteach oc dul fodes .1. Ettech 
\7igefi Len[n]glaiss. Unde Tethba ^ Cenn Ettigh : 

Teathb[a] toga ban co mblaidh 

ingen Echa^/z'' Airimain : 

hisin tir contoisi thair, 

ros-car Noissi m«c N^rAtain. 

atbath Eittech mgen Glaiss 

a Cind Etteig'' dia hingnais. 

Tethba, daughter of Eochaid Airem, was loved by a son of 
Nechtan the White-shouldered, from Loch Lein, whose name 
was N6isiu. His fostermother was Ettech, daughter of Lennglass, 
son of Lonn : of the Glomraide of Tracht Tuirbi was he. She 
went with Tethba and with N6isiu, son of Nechtan the White- 
shouldered, till she came to Ard Umai. 

" My going hence will be a loss to the beauty of this land," 
saith the girl. 

" That will not be true," says her husband, " for thy name 
shall not be wanting to the land. But the worded doom which 
thou hast left on this land will be deadly." 
" Grief for this will follow thee," say they. 
That came true to her, for (her husband's fostermother) Ettech 
died when going southwards, even Ettech, daughter of Lennglass. 
Whence " Tethba" and " Cenn Etig". 

Tethba, choice of famous women. 
Daughter of Eochaid Aireman. 
In the land east he hearkens, 
N6isiu, son of Nechtan, loved her. 
Ettech, daughter of Glass, died. 
At Cenn Ettig, of her absence. 

Also in BB. 409 a 12 ; H. 68 b ; Lee. 521 a ; and R. 124 b 2. 

Tethba, anglicised Teffa, a territory in the present counties of Westmeath and 
Longford ; O'Donovan, Topogr. Punns, p. ix. O'Curry, Lectures, 286, spells 
Teahhtha. Loch Lein, now the lake of Killarney, see ittfra. No. 18. Tracht 
Tuirbi, " Tuirbe's Strand", near Malahide. 

Cenn Eitigh, now Kinnitty, in King's county. O'Curry, Lectures, p. 340 ; 
Chron. Scot. , p. 367. 

Eochaid Airem, over-king of Ireland, A.M. 5070, according to the Four Masters. 

1 MS. lochoch. 2 MS. fingulai. -^ MS. daeil. " MS. ade. 

^ MS. tzxhach. ^MS. etteid. 

482 The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

[14. Loch Annind, Loch Uair, Loch Cimmi.] — Loch 
Annind, cid dia ta ? 

Ni ANSA .1.^ Ainnind ;;) Uar ^ Cimme Cethircenn, tn Yc\aic 
Umhor, do rigaib Fer m[B]olc. Do Gr^ccaib al-lethcinel .1. 
Gr^cus'^ mac Point j Danaus'' \\\ac Point. LS e da??(? Danaus^ 
sen Fer niBolc. Rogab ciniudh indala fir fortamlas ar aroile, 
con na ro leccsit in t-uisr^ sommblasta doib, fodaig is commz/i- 3 is 
cacht bis hi tirib Gr^c for ind us(r/, ;j adachta fo doire .1. uir do 
taroidiud {sic!) ior lecca loma co mbetis j-^if/// cubaid'* in donini 
uire forraib. 

Dodechatar iarum riasin cwmachta moir sin dochum'' nErind 
lor eludh, 3 gnisit barcca doib dia mbolcaib, co tudhchatar co 
tirib Yjxenn 3 gabsat hie lochaib firuisa'^ib lochdoimnib Hndglanib. 
Aindinn ic Loch Kxwdiinn a Midi. Uar ic Loch Uair am-Miide 
3 Cimmie la Q^nnacta : 

Triar brathar, ba buan a ngloir, 
\.r\ xaaic ardgasta Ugmoir, 
Ainninn, Uar am-Midhe an;?u, 
oais Cimme a Conactu. 

"Loch Anninn", whence is it? 

Not hard (to say). Anninn and Uar, and Cimme Cethircenn, 
three sons of Umor, of the kings of the Fir Bolg. Of the 
Greeks was one of their two kindreds, to wit, Grecus, son of 
Pont, and Danaus, son of Pont. This Danaus was the ancestor 
of the Fir Bolg. The race of one of these two men prevailed 
over (that of the) other, so that they did not let them have 
the well-tasted water, because there is in the lands of the 
Greeks control and constraint over the water. And they were 
put under slavery, to wit, to drag mould (in leathern bags) on to 
bare flagstones, so that there should be seven cubits deep of 
mould upon them. 

So they fled before that tyranny to Ireland, and they built 
them barques of their bags, and they came to the lands of Ireland 
and set up at loughs fresh-watered, profound, clear-pooled. 
Ainninn at Lough Ainninn, in Meath; Uar at Lough Uair, in 
Meath ; and Cimme, in Connaught. 

Three brothers, lasting their glory, 
Three high-brisk sons of Ugmor, 
Ainninn, Uar in Meath, to-day. 
And Cimme in Connaught. 

Also in BB. 409 a 34 ; H. 69a ; Lee. 521 b ; and R. 125a i. 

As to the flight of the Fir Bolg, cf. Keating, p. 129. 

Loch Ai7i}iinn, now Lough Ennell, in Westmeath. Lock Uair, now Lough 
Owel, in Westmeath. Turgeis {yiidrgils) was drowned in it A.u. 847. Loch 
Cimme, now Lough Hackett, in the co. Galway. 

1 MS. repeats. 2 ^g, Grecas, ^ ms, Tanais. * MS. cumaid. 

^ MS. dodochum. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 483 

[15. Berba.] — Berba, cidh dia ta ? 

Ni ansa .\} Berba his inti ro laitea na \.r\ natracha batar a 
cndi[b] Meich[i] xviaic na Morigna, iarna bass do M^c Cecht im- 
Maig Meichi. Mag Fertaigi da;/^-* ainm [12b 2] in maige sin pri?;^. 
Delba- tri cenn natrach batar for[s]na tn cridib'^ batar im-Meichi/ 
^ mina tairsedh a bas no oirbeordais na nathra^Z'rt ina broind 
conTx. facbadais anmanna beo i nErind. Coron loisc Myzc Cecht 
iarna marb^^ i Maig Luadat,-^ ^ coro la a luaith lasin sruth ut, co 
rom-berb 3 coro dileag each n-ainmidi'^ do anmandaib bai inti. 
Ctfwadh [de]sin ata Magh Lu[ad]at j Magh Meichi' 3 Berba. 
Unde poeta dzVr/t : 

Cridi Meichi," cruaidh in cned, 

isin Berba ro baided : 

a luaith iarna loscadh lib 

rocuir Mac Cecht cetguinigh. 

Berba, into it were cast the three adders that abode in the 
hearts of Meche, son of the Morri'gain, after his death by Mac 
Cecht in Mag Mechi (Mag Fertaigi, now was the name of that 
plain formerly). The shapes of three adders' heads were on 
the three hearts that were in Meche, and, unless his death had 
occurred, the adders would have grown in his breast till they would 
not have left an animal alive in Ireland. So after slaying him on 
Mag Luadat, Mac Cecht burnt them (the hearts) and cast their 
ashes with yon stream, and it boiled, and it dissolved every one of 
the animals that were therein. Wherefore thence are " Mag 
Luadat", and " Mag Mechi", and "Berba". Hence said the poet : 

Meche's hearts, hard the wound, 
Have been drowned in the Barrow ; 
Their ashes, after being burnt by you, 
Mac Cecht, slayer of a hundred, cast in. 

Also in LL. 159b 40 ; BB. 3^8 a ; H. 17 b ; and R. 95 a 2. 

Berba, now the river Barrow. Ma^ Luadat, "probably the ancient name of the 
plain now called Maghera cregan, situated near Newtown Stuart, in the barony of 
Omagh and the co. of Tyrone." Four Masters, A.D. 1160, note a. 

The Morrigain, v. supra, s.v. Mag Breg. 

A Mac Cecht, one of the three kings of the Tuatha d6 Danann, is slain by Airem. 
Another Mac Cecht, King Conaire's champion, plays a great part in the Bruden 
da Derga, LU. 89a, 97b, 98a. 

[16. Mag Femin.] — Magh Fem?;/, cid dia da? Ni ansa .1. 

Femen canas ro hainmnight[he]a ? 

Ni ansa .1. Femen da;/^ ;j Fera, da derbrathair .1. da mac 
Moagaib x^aic Dachair do claind Bratha Ttxaic Deatha. Oen bacc 
S oen sluasat iairinn etur[r]u andis. In trath nobid Femean ic 

1 MS. repeats, putting cid dia for cidh diata. - MS. Dlelb. 

3 MS. cri idib. ■* MS. meithchi. * MS. luagat, « MS. 

nanaiwmidi, "^ MS. Meithe, 

484 The Bodleimi Din7ishenchas. 

fuilged nobidh Fera hie baccad. In trath nobidh Yerz ic baccad 
Femmen diOno ic ivA'ged^ ;j foceardad cectar de a mbacc 3 a 
sluasait inna himputh^ techta dar in mag hir-Rae n-Urchuir dia- 
lailiu. Unde [Mag] Femin j [Mag] Feara. 

Femen, Fera, fir fatha, 
do sil delbglan Deat[h]a, 
is eat doslectsat nammaig, 
Fera, Yoxnen a fidhbaidh.- 

Mag Femin, whence is it ? Not hard. Femen, whence was it 
named? Not hard. Femen, then, and Fera, two brothers, to 
wit, two sons of Moagab, son of Dachar of the clan of Brath, son 
of Death. One billhook and one shovel of iron between the two. 
When Femen was shovelling, Fera was hacking. When Fera 
was shovelling, Femen was hacking. And each of them used to 
fling his billhook and his shovel in his proper turn to the other 
over the plain into Rae Urchuir (' Field of a cast'). Hence " Mag 
Femin", and " Mag Fera". 

Femen, Fera, truth of knowledge. 
Of the pure-formed seed of Death : 
It is they that cleared the two plains, 
Fera, Femen, of wood. 

Also in LL. 168 b 28 ; BB. 373 by; H. 27 a ; Lee. 470 a ; and R. 104 a 2. 
Magh Femin, that part of the present county of Tipperary which belongs to the 
diocese of Lismore. Topogr. Poems, Ixi. 

[17. Sliab Mis.] — Sliab Mis, cidh dia da? 

Ni ansa .1. .1. Mis ingean Mairedha, siur Eachd-r//^ mo/c 
Maireda roan do eiss a himirge dia luid* la Congancness mac 
nDedad.^ IS ed ddino forba ;j atharda f^rsa^ rir a fine j a aiccme, 
iorsm sliab ut. Unde Sliab Miss dicitur : 

Miandais Miss co mbruachaib [bla,] 
mgeji morglicc Muireda, 
dels a himirce gan geiss 
lasin coemgein C^ngancneiss. 

Mis, daughter of Mairid, sister of Eochaid, son of Mairid, 
stayed with Congancness, son of Deda, after the flitting of her 
folk. And the heritage and patrimony, for which she gave up 
her family and her kin, is on yon mountain. Hence "Sliab Mis" 
is said. 

Mairid's very cunning daughter. 

Mis, with margins of land, remained (?) 

1 MS. himpuch. 2 mS. fidhbaigh. 3 ^S. eathac^ * MS, olaid, 
" MS, ndega^, « MS. forsra. 

The Bodleian D inns henc has, 485 

After her folk emigrated, without prohibition, 
With the fair offspring Congancneiss. 

Also in LL. i68 b 19 ; BB. 376 b 49 ; H. 30 a ; Lee. 474 b ; and R. 106 b 1. 

Sliab Mis. Two mountains were so called, one in Antrim (now Slemish), the 
other between Tralee and Killarney, in Kerry. See O'Curry, Lectures, pp. 394, 
448 ; Keating, p. 201 ; O'Donovan, Four Masters, A.M. 4319. 

Eockaid, son of Mairid. See the tale of his death, LU. 39 a et seq. 

[18. Loch Lein.] — Loch Lein, cidh dia da? 

Ni ansa .1. Loch .1. Lein Linnfiaccla[i]ch xixaic Bain Eolgaig 
vi\aic Bannaig, cerd sen Side Buidb. Is e romboi fo^ loch ic 
denam niamlesstair [Fainde] Foltlibre ingine Flidaise^ [13a i]. 
lar scur a opn each n-aidhce [focheirded] a hindeoin uad [co 
hindeoin na nDeisi] cosin feirt, 3 na frasa foceirded^ iarsin din 
muin it eat na nemanna rosilat ann di. Nithnemannach dorigni 
a cetna oc slaidi cu[a]ich Concobrt/> raaio. Nessa a [thjuaid. Is 
do sin ata [Loch] Lein ;) Ind[eo]i« na nDeissi. Unde Loch Len. 

Len Linfiacclach rc^ac Bain Bolcaig* 
fo Loch Lein li;zdiacac (?) leir. 
cerd cen ciargestul, cen cain, 
fodail niamlesstair fo neim. 

The Lake, that is, of Len Linnfiaclach, son of Ban Bolgach, 
son of Bannach. He was the craftsman of Sid Buidb (" Bodb's 
Fairy-mound"). It is he that was under the lake making the 
bright vessel of Fann the Long-haired, daughter of Flidais. 
Every night, after quitting his work, he used to fling his anvil 
away to the Indeoin na nDese ("The Anvil of the Desi"), to the 
mound ; and the showers which, thereafter, it used to cast forth 
from the back, they are the pearls which were there sown by it. 
Nithnemannach did the same in beating out the cup of Conor 
mac Nessa in the north. Hence is " Loch Lein" and the " Anvil 
of the Desi". 

Len Linnfiaclach, son of Ban Bolgach, 

Under Lough Lein . . . manifest, 

A craftsman without a black deed, without reproach, 

Distributed bright vessels under heaven. 

Also in BB. 379a5 ; H. 32b; Lee. 477a; and R. loBa i. Versified, LL. 154b 35. 

Loch Lim, now the Lake of Killarney. See O'Curry, Lectures, 75. 

Sid Buidb, v. supra, No. 4. 

Indioin na nDise, now Mullach IndeSna (anglieised Mullaghnoney), near 
Clonmel, co. Tipperary. Four Masters, A.D. 852; Chron. Scot., p. 389. See 
O'Curry, M. and C., iii, 203. For cerd sen side Buidb H. has cerd-side Buidb. 

The text seems corrupt. For for lock H. has isin lock. The third and fourth 
sentences stand thus in H. : 

^ MS. ior. - MS. ingine foltlibri fligais. ^ MS. foceiredid. 

* MS. bolcaid. 


The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

lAR scur a oibre each n-oidhche Every night, after quitting his work, 

foceirded oad a inneoin sair CO hindeoin he would fling his anvil from him 
na nDesi, cusan fert, et tri frosa foceir- eastwards, to Indeoin na nDese, to the 
dedh .1. fros uisci et fros teined 7 fros mound. And three showers it used to 
do nemoind chorcorglain. Or?/'.? donit[h] cast off, to wit, a shower of water and a 
Nemannach an cetno ac sloide chuaich shower of fire and a shower of pure- 
Concobair. purple pearl. And Nemannach used to 

do the same when beating (out) Conor's 


[19. Sliab Cua.] — Sliab Cua, canas rohainmni[g]ed ? 
'^i ansa .\. Cua Cennmar m^c Broccalaig^ Cringluinig, dalta 
Boibli xixaic Birurchai. Tainic boar mor i nHerinn i n-aimsir 
CongdcX Clairingnig, con2i frith act oen tarb 3 oen samaisc i 
nGlend t-Samaisce.^ Rofoeided ga^/z dalta a den;^.f dia coimed. 
Intan doroact Cua Cennmar cuairt a commeta rofell foraib. 
Ros-ruc leiss co ndernai'^ brothlaig foraib,"* ^ dos-fuaid isin tsleib. 
unde ^\iab Cua. 

Cua Cennmar co cruth cain, 

mac Br[o]ccalaig Cringlunma[i]r, 

da[l]ta duaidh a boin 'sa tsleib : 

robo dalta co ndallceill. 

Cua Great-head, son of Broccshalach Wither-kneed, fosterling 
of Boible, son of Birurchae. In the time of Conall the Flat- 
nailed, a great murrain invaded Ireland, so that there was found 
only one bull and one heifer in Glenn Samaisce. Each of 
Boible's fosterhngs was sent in his turn to guard the cattle. When 
Cua Great-head came to his turn to guard them, he acted 
treacherously regarding them. He took them with him, and 
made a cooking-pit for them, and devoured them on the moun- 
tain. Whence " Sliab Cua". 

Cua Great-head, with a fair form, 

Son of Broccsalach Wither-kneed. 

A fosterling who devoured his cow on the mountain. 

He was a fosterling with a blind reason. 

Also in LL. 169 a i. 

Sliad Cua, a mountain, now Slieve Gua, in the co. of Waterford. Glenn 
Samaisce, hardly the valley so named, in Cualnge in Ulster. 

[20. LuiMNECH.] — Luimnech, cid dia ta ? 

Ni ansa .1. Luimnech de asberar dia rofas in [ijmmarbaig 
etar na [da] fheindid'' robatar ic ri'gh*' Muman 3 righ nOllnecmacht. 
Rind 3 Foeb[ur] a n-anmann, da derbratho/r eat andis .1. da mac 
Smucaille raaic Baccduib. Rogab indala n-oi amsai mBuidb 
a Sidh Femin a Mu[m]ain. Gabaiss alaile amhsaige hOcailli 

1 MS. brorcalaid. ^ MS. tsamai aisca. ^ MS. conder/maid 

(the first c/ dotted). •* MS. inserts isin tsleib. '" MS. feindig 

(/dotted). « MS. hicrich. 

The Bodleian D inns henc has. 487 

Connaf/itaib a Sid^ C/'uachan int[sa]inruth. Con tardsat a ceird 
muccada for aird con targlamsat dail m6ir imon cocnch andes ;j 
atuaith immun n-inbir, gac[h] laech co lumain i cechtar na da dal. 
F(?ruabratar cluiche imon sruth. His e sin tan tainic a thuile lais 
oc tindtud, conid and atbe^rtatar na derccaide san chan im sruth 
na Sinda"'^ de Tul Tuindi co n-athi buille : " Is luimnechda in 
t-inbiur !" 

No intan batar na trenfhir ic imargail con tompacht tonn tuile 
a sciatha dib, co ndebratar in da rig don cnucc dianidh ainm 
Tul Tuinde : "Is luimnechda" .1. i[s] sciathach "in t-inber 
indorsa," ol seat. 

Isi sein da/w in cocnch cert in da coiced, unde Luimnech 

Dia da Luimnech, liss na long, 

isam cuimnech cen imroU ; 

dia sui in sruth, cen tiacra cnedh, 

sciatha mora na xiAed, 

Luimnech, hence is it (so) called, when the contest arose 
between the two champions who were with the king of Munster 
and the king of Connaught. Rind and Foebur were their names; 
two brothers were the twain, to wit, two sons of Smucaill, son of 
Baccdub. One of the twain took service with Bodb of Sid Femin 
in Munster. The other took service with Ocaill in Connaught, of 
Sid Cruachan especially. So they displayed their swineherd's art, 
and collected, from south and from north, a great assembly at the 
frontier at the inver, every hero in each of the two assemblies 
having a shield {hanaiii). They began the game at the stream (of 
the Shannon). That was the time when the flood came at the 
turn (of the tide). So then said the onlookers, to and fro, from 
Tul Tuinne, by the stream of the Shannon, with its deadly blow : 
" The inver now is full of shields {luimnechda) !" 

Or, when the champions were contending, a wave of the flood 
tore their shields away from them. So the two kings exclaimed 
from the hillock named Tul Tuinne (" Front of the Wave") : 
" The inver is now luimnechda,^'' that is, " full of shields," say 

That, then, is the right mering of the two provinces (Munster 
and Connaught). Hence " Luimnech" is said. 

Whence is ' Luimnech', the garth of the ships, 

I am mindful without error : 

When the stream turned, without afifliclion of wounds. 

The great shields of the soldiers. 

Also in BB. 379a ; H. 33a ; Lee. 477 b ; and R. 108 a 2. Versified, LL. i,i;sa 25. 
Bodb of Sfd Femin, the fairy-king above mentioned, No. 4. Ocaill of Sid 

1 MS. sig. ^ The gen. sg. of a fem. «-stem=Skr. sindhu F. river. 

488 The Bodleian Dinnshenckas. 

Cruachan, another fairy-king. Both occur in the Cophur in da muccida, ed. 
Windisch, Irische Texte, 3rd Series, part i, pp. 235 et seq. 

Ljiimnech, anciently apphed to the lower Shannon only. O' Donovan, Topogr. 
Poems, p. 1. 

According to the Book of Leinster, 247 a, the two champions passed through 
various existences, and were variously named. They were Rucht and Runce when 
they were two swineherds ; Ingen and Eitte (" Talon and Wing") when they were 
two kites (hawks?) ; Bled and Blod when they were two beasts under seas ; Rind 
and Faebur ("Point and Edge") when they were two champions; Scath and 
Sciath ("Shadow and Shield") when they were two phantoms; Crunniuc and 
Tunniuc when they were two worms ; and the Whitehorn of Ai and the Dun of 
Cualnge when they were the two bulls famed in the Tain Bo Cualnge. 

[21. Sliab nEchtga.] — [13=^ 2] Sliab nEchtga can[as] rohainm- 
niged ? 

Ni ansa .i. Echtga hUathach ingean Aurscathaigh^ ma/c Tindi 
Truim do Tuathfl/b Dea Donand. Is ann ro alt, hi Ciiil" Echtair 
hi toeb Nenta, la Moach Moelchenn. Roboi deogbaire Gaind ^ 
Sengaind oca cuingid .i. Ferg^^i' mac Ruide Lusca Beist. Is-^ arai 
asb(?rti Lusca P[ei]st de fobith peist ro alt assa lusca .i. assa 
noedenda^r/z/, inna medhon. 

Rofaim ind ingin feiss da^^* leissium fodaig feraind cuchchaire ;] 
deoghbaire boi ina laim o ri n-0\neccmacht .1. o Moen co fairrgi 
insin. Ni boi ddiuo innmais laiss ~\ boi ferann. Boi, d^fio, inn- 
mais lasind ingin 3 ni boi ferann na horba, 3 issed connaitecht 
fair .1. fother fossad cona febaib. Roherbad di assliab ut .1. 
Echtga, ^ b^rtair di bai ann indorsa .1. b6 anntuaith ;] bo annddess, 
;j beridh in b6 atuaith trian mblechta sech in mboin andess. 
Unde SUab nEchta. 

Echtga Uathach os gach blaidh, 
ingen airdairc Urscathaig* ; 
si conaitecht sliab nach slait 
{or Fergus 'na turfochraic. 

Echta the Awful, daughter of Aurscothach, son of Tinne Tromm 
of the Tuatha De Donann. She was reared at Ciiil Echtair beside 
Nenta, by Moach Baldhead. The cupbearer of Gann and Sengann 
was wooing her, even Fergus son of Ruide, Lusca Beist. Why he 
was called " Lusca Beist" was because from his cradle {lusca), 
that is, from his infancy, he nourished a monster (beist) in his 

Now the girl consented to marry him for sake of the cook-and- 
cupbearer's land that he held from the King of Connaught. It 
extended from Moen to the sea. Fergus had no (movable) 
wealth, though he had land. The girl, however, had wealth, 
though she had neither land nor heritage. And this is what she 
demanded of him, even a firm fother (?) with its stock. Yon moun- 
tain, even Echtga, was entrusted to her, and two cows are now 

1 MS. Aurscathaidh. 2 ms. ciuil. ^ ^5. beisti. 

^ MS. Urscathaid 

The Bodleian Dinnshenckas. 489 

brought there, a cow from the north and a cow from the south. 
And the cow from the north yields a third more milk than the 
cow from the south. Hence " Sliab Echtga". 

Echta the Awful, above every fame. 

Conspicuous daughter of Aurscathach, 

She demanded a mountain, which she robbed not, 

From Fergus, as her bride-price. 

Also in LL. 167 a 43 ; BB. 381 b ; H. 40 a ; Lee. 480 b ; and R. no a i. 

Sliab nEchtga, anglicised Slieve Aughty, the name of a mountainous district on 
the confines of Galvvay and Clare. O'Don., Topogr. Poems, xliv ; Four Masters, 
A.D. 1598, p. 2054, note A. The story of the two milch cows accounts for the 
rivername Abhaiim dd Loilgheach, which divides the fertile from the barren part 
of Slieve Aughty. 

[22. Mag nAidne.] — ^Mag nAidhne, canas rohainmni[g]ed ? 
Ni ansa .1. Aidne m^c AUgubai m«/c Eithriuil, is e cetfer no- 
atad^ tenidh ar tus dogres ria xixaccw Mik^ Espandai in baili i 
ngabdais longport, fobithin ni ba hecen do acht a basa ior araili 
dogrt's, CO teigtis cnthri'-^ tenidh tennalda a suilib a mer, conimdar 
meide fiadubla adnui hi ius a mbuana, conid he sin slechtais in 
mag. Unde Mag nAidne dicitur. No comad 'ar n-ecc ann 
nohammni[g]thea, et quod est uerius. 

Mac Allguba, bai da brig, 

meic Eithriuil aib airdmin, 

cedna toisseach tricheim tenn 

reia macaib Mile^ mortenn. 

Aidne, son of Allguba, son of Ethrel, he is the first man that 
kindled fire continually before the sons of Mil the Spaniard, in 
every stead wherein they pitched a camp. Because he needed 
only to put one of his palms over the other, whereupon sparks of 
fire, as from a firebrand, would come out of his knuckles,^ and the 
sparks were as large as fresh wild apples at the beginning of 
their harvesting. And he it is that cleared the plain. Whence 
" Mag Aidne" (Aidne's Plain) is said. Or mayhap it was so 
named after his death thereon. This is truer. 

The son of Allguba, such was his virtue. 
Son of Ethrel beautiful, exceeding gentle, 
Was the first chief who lighted a blaze 
Before the sons of mighty Mil." 

Also in BB. 382b ; H. 41 a ; Lee. 482b; R. nob. Versified, LL. is6b 37. 
Mag nAidne, "a level district in the present co. of Galway, all comprised in the 
diocese of Kilmacduagh." Four Masters, A.M. 3727, note m. 

Ethrdl, perhaps the Eithrial said to have been over-king of Ireland, A.M. 3530. 

[23. Port Lairge.] — Port Lairge, canas rphainmni[g]ed ? 

Ni ansa .1. Fectas doluid Roth mac Cithing, ma/c rig Insi 

1 MS. noataid. ^ ms, crithni. ^ Lit. eyes of his fingers. 


490 The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

Aine a tirib iath Fomorach la hairchind tiri do chu[a]ird a 
coicnche, co cuala [inni] .i. dord na murduchunn do Muir 
n-Icht. Is ed in fuath atconnairc .i. in murduchund fo deilb 
ingine m^?c[d]acta. Is blaithem [u]as li/;d ^ ichtar brotharluibnech 
bi'astaide fothi^ [13b i] fo lind. Co n[d]uadar na biasda he, co 
ndaralsat he ina aigib, co ruige in fairge a da lairg cosin port 
hut, 3 no[t]hallad da[ilj ced ior mael gach cnama. Unde Port 
Lairge dicitur. 

IS de gongarthar in cuan 

Portt Lairge na leburtuagh,^ 

ann frith laarg, Uthaing Ur, 

Ruith ma/c Cithaing cetguinig. 

Once upon a time, Roth, son of Citheng, son of the King of 
Inis Aine, went from the lands of the Fomorian countries with a 
chief (?) of the land to go round his boundary, when he heard 
somewhat, the burden of the mermaids of the Ictian Sea. This 
is the form that he beheld, the mermaid with the shape of a 
grown-up girl. Above the water she was most smooth ; but be- 
low the water her lower parts were hairy-clawed and bestial. So 
the monsters devoured him and cast him away in joints. And 
the sea carried his two thigh-bones to yonder port, and the share 
of a hundred would fit on the flat^ of each bone. Hence Port 
Lairge (" Port of the Thighbone") is (so) called. 

Hence is the haven called 

Port Lairge of the broad axes. 

There was found a thigh, .... of the sea, 

Of Roth, son of Citheng the hundred-slayer. 

Also in LL. 169 a 11. A variant in BB. 372 b; H. 26 a; Lee. 470 a; R. 103 b 2. 

Port Lairge, now Waterford. The " Ictian Sea", tlie Channel. 

In R. , etc., the mermaids are described as having yellow hair and white skins. 
And they sing a wonderful burden to Roth, so that he falls asleep. 

The penultimate sentence is obscure. LL. has : nothallad dail chet for mael 
each cnama. BB. has : notallad ol .c. i mael a chnama. H. has : notallrta'h oul 
cet a maol a cnamho. Lee. has : nothallad ol .c. a maelchnama. R. has : notalladh 
61 cet a mael a chnamha. Here ol, oul, 61, can only mean " drink". 

[24. Seig Mossad.] — Seig Mossadh canass r[o]hainmn/^-6'^? 
Ni ansa .1. Mossad mac Main ma/c Fleiscci Findi fofhu[a]ir in 
seig im-Muigh Eoin. Rom-biath ^ roforbairt co n-ith^^ na 
groighi ;] na tainte ^ na daine deissib ^ tnaraib, 3 o na fu[a]ir 
fodeoidh* ni condeossadh conimsoi fria aite .1. Mossad .1. 
Mossad mac Main isan maig. Unde Mag Mossadh 3 Seig 

Mossad mac Main, gnnne gel, 
mac Fleiscci Findi, fo fer, 

1 MS. brotharluaimnech biassdaie foti. '^ MS. leburtuadh. 

^ Perhaps the popliteal area. * MS. fodeoigh. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 491 

alais seig fri^ seilc subaigh, 
robo mein ri mor-fubflz'<^. 

Mossad, son of Maen, son of Flesc Find (" White Rod") found 
the hawk on Mag Eoin. He fed it and nourished it till it used to 
eat the herds of horses, and the droves of cattle, and the human 
beings by twos and threes. And when at last it found nothing 
to devour, it turned on the plain against its fosterer Mossad, 
even Mossad, son of Maen. Hence Mag Mossad (" Mossad's 
Plain") and Seig Mossad (" Mossad's Hawk"). 

Mossad, son of Maen, a fair faggot. 

Son of Flesc Find, a good man. 

Nurtured a hawk for joyous hunting : 

Its desire was in great destruction. 

Also in LL. i6ob 37, and Lee. 523 b. LL. adds that the place may have been 
named from Mossad, a gillie of Eogan Taidlech. 

I cannot identify Mag Eoin ( = Fid Eoin, Lee. ) or Mag Mossad. 

[25. Mag Main.] — Mag Main, cidh dia ta? 
Ni ansa .1. Moen Morgnimach fer berrtha no berrthoir mac 
Miledh, is e c^/na fer no ber[r]ad i nEirind .1. iar tascur mac 
Miled. Is e da«^ cetfer robif/'rad i nErind, Fobarr Foltcain. Is 
e da;2<9 cedluag berrtha tuccad art^j- i nErind .1. Ber[r]amain .1. 
ferann i cuxvacvn a berrtha. Marb da/?(? im-Muig Moen cen brec. 
No comad^ il-log a berrtha taithi in mag ac caillig ianhiva^ 
conid de sin ata Moenmag 'j Berramain. 

No comad il-logh a berrthorachta do Maen do bertais Ma/c 
Miled Berramain do Moen. Et quod est uerius. 
Ba marb Moen co mine ngal 
ior Mag Main atcu[a]lamar : 
fo[fh]uair cen debtha^ tre baig 
il-log berrtha'^ Ber[r]amain. 

Maen of the Mighty-deeds, the barber of the sons of Mil : he 
was the first man who shaved (others) in Erin, to wit, after the 
expedition of the sons of Mil. Now the first man who was 
shaved in Ireland was Fobarr Foltchain. This is the first bar- 
ber's fee that was given in Erin, to wit, Berramain, that is, a 
land in reward {cumdin) of his shaving (berrtha). He died, then, 
without a lie, in Mag Moin. 

Or maybe it was recompense of his shaving that the plain . . . 
. . . only : whence are " Moenmag" and " Berramain". 

Or maybe it was in wage for his barbering that the sons of Mil 
gave Berramain to Moen. And this is truer. 

Moen was dead, with fineness of valours. 
On Mag Moen (as) we have heard. 

1 MS. fris. - MS. coma ad. •' MS. deatba. ''MS. herrta.. 

K K 2 

492 The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

He obtained without disputes through battle 
Berramain as a reward for shaving. 

Also in LL. 167 b 6; BB. 382 b 29; H. 41 b ; Lee. 483 a, where the place is 
called Moenmag, now Moinmoy, a territory lying round Loughrea, in the co. of 
Galway. Berramain, near Tralee ; see Rev. Celtique, vii, 295. 

[26. Ath Cliath la Connachta.] — Ath diath la Connactu, 
canas r[o]hainm;//o-^^? 

Ni aiisa .1. Cliath sciach ^ droigean dorigenseat na secht 
Maine .1. secht meic^ Meidbi Cruachrt?? . i . Maine Aithremail 3 
Maine M.i.thxemail 3 Maine Mingar, yiaine Morgor, lAaine Ann- 
dae, yiaine Mo-epert .i. mo a choimpert 3 a adbur, Maine Coii- 
dagaib uile, ^ Crochen- Crodt^z-g inailtEdaine — is uaithe ainm- 
ni[g]ter Mag Cruach^//. It eat sin rolasat na cliatha [13^ 2] 
fna hocu M«man ic tabairt^ tana bo Darthada ingine Gegamain 
{sic). Dodos-farraid cobair iardain a Cr\xa.chain. Unde Ath Cliath. 

Na secht Maine, linaib gal, 

gniset fri (eraih M//man 

cliatha draigin, data tra, 

for tanaid^ bo Darthadha. 

A hurdle {cliath) of whitethorn and brambles the seven Maines 
made, to wit, the seven sons of Maine of Cruachu, even Maine 
Fatherlike, and Maine Motherlike, and Maine Mi'ngor, Maine 
M6rgor, Maine Andae, Maine M6-epert (greater his conception 
and his substance), Maine Con-da-gaib uili, and Crithcen Croderg, 
Etain's handmaid — from her Mag Cruachan is named. Those 
are they who set the hurdles (in the ford) against the warriors of 
Munster after taking the drove of the kine of Dartaid, daugh- 
ter of Regaman. Afterwards help came to them from Cruachu. 
Hence Ath Cliath ("Ford of Hurdles"). 

The seven Maines, with numbers of valours, 

Against the men of Munster wrought 

Hurdles of brambles, pleasant indeed. 

On the Driving of Dartaid's cows. 

Also in BB. 382a 30 ; H. 40a ; Lee. 481 a ; and R. iioa 2 ; where it is called 
Ath Cliath oc Medraige, the "Ford of Hurdles at Medraige", now Maaree in 
Ballynacourty parish, in the co. Galway. 

The story relates to an incident in the tale of the Tain B6 Dartada, of which 
there are copies in H. 2. 16, and Egerton 1782, and a fragment in Lebar na 
hilidre, p. 20, col. 2. 

Queen Maive refers to the seven Maines in the Tain Bd Cualnge, LL. 57 a. 
They were her sons by Ailill. Their names are explained in the Coir Anmann, 
H. 3. 18, p. 589 a. Maine Athremail and M. Mathremail are mentioned in LL. 90 b 
II. Maine Andoe's death is described tbid., 91 a 43. 

[27. Mag Cruachan.] — Mag Cruacha;^, canas rohainm;7/^(?^ ? 
Ni ansa .1. Cruach?/; no Crochen^ inailt Etaine dodeochaidh 

1 MS. repeats. 2 jyjS. crithcen. ^ ^5. repeats. * MS. tanaig 
bo. ^ MS. croiten. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 493 

ior aithedh la Midir Bri Leith a hOenuch Oengz/i-a. Robo cara 
do saidi Sinech Sidi Cruach««. Taraill leiss ara dili dia accallaim. 
F^rfostait i suidiu. Dorumenair Etain co mba la Midir in sid sin. 
" \Iti hi] do treb-su inso ?" ol Etain. " Ace son," ol Midir, " is 
ness[a] sair do turccabail gr<?ne bail mo treibi-se," ol Midhir, " inda 
inso." " Cm/, ciaso buaid duinne tadall in tsi'da^ sa ?" ol Cro- 
chen.- "Bidhth'ainm bias f^rsin mag sin, co brath^ .1. Magh 
Crochan," 3 is de sin fil Raith Maige Crochan .1. do Crochain 
inailtt Etaine, fodaigh robo crod^rg [in cenn bai fuirri] cona hab- 
raib uile d.cus a habratchur.'* Unde Mag Cruacha/^. 

Crochen Crod^rg, cruthmar, caem, 

inailt Etaine conna[i]g, 

dia luid la Midir Bri Leith 

isi fo[fh]uair na deithi in raith. 
Cruachu, or Crochen, handmaid of Etain, who eloped with 
Mider of Bri Leith from Oenach Oengusa. To him Sinech of Sid 
Cruachan was a friend. She (Etain) went with him because of 
her fondness for him, to converse with him. They were detained 
in Sid Cruachan for nine watches. So Etain thought that that 
sid (fairy-mound) belonged to Mider. " Is this thy dwelling ?" 
she asked. "Nay," said Mider: "eastward, nearer to sunrise 
than this, is the place of my dwelling." " What profit, then, 
have we in visiting this fairy-mound?" says Crochen. "That 
plain will bear thy name for ever, to wit, 'Mag Cr6chan'." And 
hence is Raith Maige Cruachan (" the Earthwork of Cruachu's 
Plain"), from Cruachu, Etain's handmaid, (so called) because her 
head was blood-red, together with her eyebrows and eyelashes. 
Hence " Mag Cruachan". 

Crochen Crdderg, shapely, beautiful, 
Etain's handmaid, asked. 
When she went with Mider of Bri Leith 
She obtained the earthwork as her deithe (?). 

Also in LL. 170a, 43; BB. 384a i; H. 42b; Lee. 484b; where the title is 
Rath (or Raith) Cruachan, now Rathcroghan, in the co. Roscommon. 

Magh Cruachna, in the co. Roscommon, lies between the towns of Roscommon 
and Elphin, Castlereagh and Strokestown. 

As to Mider's elopement with Etdin, see LU. i3ob-i32, and O'Curry, M. and C, 
ii, 192-194. 

[28. Mag Tarbgai.] — Mag Tarbgai canas rohainmni[g]ed ? 

Ni ansa .1. do comrac 3 do gleicc na da tarb .1. Findbennaig 
3 Duind Chuailnge ia[r] tabairt na tana im Chnoc Tarbgai. 
Unde Mag Tarbgai. 

Findloch .1.'' loch Findbennaigh, do bas ind [Fhjindbennaig 
on Dund Chuailgne*' isind loch, ^d>;nd[d]e asberar Findloch. Unde 
poeta dixit : 

1 MS. maga. - MS. crothcen. ^ mS. brath. * MS. abrachttur. 
'^ MS. .1. Findloch. '^ MS. cluailgne. 

494 T^^^ Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 

Mag Tarbga canas roraided ? 
do gleicc na tarb tenRsaiteac[h] : 
tria bass in Find do mormocli 
de dogarar in Findloch. 

From the conflict and contest of the two bulls, Findbennach 
("White-horned") and Donn Cuailnge ("the Dun of Cuailnge"), 
after the drove was taken at Cnoc Tarbgai. 

Findloch, the lake of Findbennach, from the death of the 
Findbennach (caused) by the Donn Cuailnge in the lake. 
Whence is said " Findloch", and the poet said : 

Mag Tarbga, whence was it spoken ? 
From the contest of the strong-sated bulls. 
Thro' the death of the Find very early. 
Thence the Find-loch is called. 

Also in LL. 166 b 47. 

Mag Tarbgai is not identified. 

As to the two bulls, see above, s.v. Luimnech. Their deaths are described in 
LL. 104 a, and in O'Curry's Lectures, pp. 39, 40. 

Findloch. I know not whether this lake is the same as Findloch in Cera, now 
Carra, in the co. Mayo, as to which the following graceful legend is told in prose 
in R. 112 b 2, H. 44 b, and Lee. 487 a ; and in verse, LL. 158 b: 
/ Enlaithe Thire Tairrngire dodechadar do fhailti fri Patraic dia mboi a Cruachoin 
Aigle, CO ro (ersatar gleic dia n-itib frisin loch, coro[b] find[ith]ir lemhnacht, 7 is 
ed adberdis : "A chobair Gaedhel, tair, tair 7 toirche !" Ba hi sin tochuiriudh 
Patraic leo, conus-toracht Patraic, 7 coros-bennach in loch. Conid aire sin 
asb«'ar Findloch hi Ceru. 

A flock of birds of the Land of Promise came to welcome S. Patrick when he 
was on Cruachu Aigle, and with their wings they smote the lake so that it became 
whiter than new milk. And this they were saying : " O help of the Gael, come, 
come and come hither !" That was their invitation to Patrick. So he came and 
blessed the lake. Wherefore it is called Findloch (" White lake") in Cera. 

[29. Loch Neill.] — Loch Neill, canas rohainmn?^^^.? 
Ni a7isa .1. Niall mac^ Ennai Aignig, mo/c Aeng?/i^a Tuirmigh,- 
m«/c Ai/dla Caisfhiaclaich, is e ropo toisseach dibergach nY^xenn 
i flaith Conaill Cromdeirg rn^/c Labradha Luchta. Dodeocha/^ 
fw lurg mucc nDreibrinde dia lotar a Sidh Collamrach condas- 
fuair i nDairi Tarbgai. Imrachtatar na mucca'' reimib eitir con- 
aib 3 firu iar futt Maigi Ai, fodaig rop ead^ ainm con Ennai Aig- 
7iig [Feib rancatar in loch] [14^ i] robaded Niall ann 3 a coin j a 
dibergaig. Unde Loch Neill. 

Robaidhedh Niall'' c^/aib cenn 

ior lurg do mucc, a Dreibrenn ; 

robo primhcelcgach, tor tenn, 

toseach dibergach Yjxe7in. 

Niall, son of Enna Aignech, son of Oengus Turmech, son of 
Ailill of the Twisted Teeth ; he was the leader of the brigands 
of Ireland in the reign of Conall Cromderg, son of Labraid 

1 MS. inserts mc. ^ ]y[s. tuirmidh. ^ ^5. muccca. * MS. eat. 
5 MS. CO. 

The Bodleian Dinnshenchas. 495 

Luchta. He went on the track of the swine of Drebrenn, when 
they issued from Si'd Collamrach, till he found them in the oak- 
wood of Tarbga. The swine fled (?) before them, both hounds 
and men, along the Plain of Ai — for that, Ai, was the name of 
Enna Aignech's hound. As they reached the lough, Ni'all was 
drowned therein with his dogs and his robbers. Hence " Loch 

Niall, with hundreds of chiefs, was drowned 

On the track of thy swine, O Drebrenn ! 

He was a prime traitor, a strong tower. 

The leader of the brigands of Ireland. 

Also in LL. 167 a 2 ; BB. 387 b 42 ; H. 46 b ; Lee. 490 b ; and R. 114 a i. 

A Loch Neill in Magh Aoi is mentioned by the Fo7ir Masters, at A.D. 1014 ; but 
it has not apparently been identified. 

Enna Aignech was (according to the Fo7ir Masters) over-king of Ireland, 
A.M. 4888-4907. 

"The swine of Drebrenn", issuing from the elf-mound of Collamair, must have 
been magical porkers of some kind. 

[30. Mag Luirg.] — Mag Luirg, can[as] xohainmniged ? 
Ni ansa. Na tri Ruadcoin Mairtene is as rogabsat lorg Con- 
aill [Cernaig] mate Aimirgen, a Muig Luirg co Mag Slecht i 
mBrefne. O ronn-ortsat rucsat a cenn leo fo dess co crich Corco 
Laigi, condas-fil a mBrefni nitnc. 

Marbsat na Rua[d]coin i recc 
Coftall Cernnach na cruadhgleacc : 
lensat o Maig Luirg ille 
CO m-Mag Slecht na sidgaile. 

Thence the three Red-hounds of Mairtene followed the track 
(/org) of Conall Cernach, son of Aimergen, from Mag Luirg to 
Mag Slecht, in Brefne. When they slew him they took his head 
southwards to the district of Corco Laigdi. 

The Red-hounds slew in exchange 

Conall Cernach of the hard conflicts. 

They followed (him) from Mag Luirg hither 

To Mag Slecht of the great valour. 

Also in LL. i66b 41 ; BB. 387b 8 ; H, 46a ; Lee. 490a; and R. 113b 2. 

Ma^ Lmrg, now Moylurg, in the present barony of Boyle, co. Roscommon. 

Brefne comprised the present counties of Leitrim and Cavan. 

Mag Slecht, a plain lying round Bally magauran, co. Cavan. 

Mairtine, perhaps =' the Mairtine of Munster, a Firbolgic tribe, the centre of 
whose territory was Emly, in the present co. of Tipperary. Topogr. Poems, 
p. Lxi.x. The three ^zA-hounds {sic LL. 211 b 3) are — the three ^(tA-heads 
(Ruadchind) of LL. 166 b 41. 

Corco Laigde, the south-west part of the co. Cork. 

The Bodleian text of the quatrain is much better than that of LL. On the other 
hand, BB., H., etc., are more explicit. It seems that when Conall Cernach was 
staying at Cruachu, he, at Queen Maive's instigation, murdered her husband 
Ailill. Then Conall fled, pursued by the warriors of Connaught. When he was 
slain by the three Red-heads, they took his head to Corca Laigde, in vengeance 
for the local dynast, Ciiroi Mac Dairi. who had been killed by Cuchulaiiin, Conall 
Cernach's comrade, and the lover of Cur6i's wife. 

49^ The Bodleiayi Di7inshenchas. 

[31. Loch nDechet.]— Loch n[D]eceadcan[as] rohainmm^d'd?? 
Ni ansa .1. Dechet rathmogaid Glaiss ma/c Caiss, is e tuar- 
gaib Suidhe nAeda uass Eass Ru[a]id. larna denam a opra d6 la 
hAedh Ruadh nirtc Baduirnn nirt/c Maine Milscothd:/^ rocuindigh 
loog a oipn .1. torud ind essa. Dob^rt do arna beith imressain 
do feraib Olnecmacht im ioxad Essa Ruaidh. Is aire tuarcaibad 
in tor^ la clainn nAilealla. Robai ic[c]uingid [d]uilgine na hopra 
dorigni. Dobreith d6 go Mag Lunga .1. co Mag Loingthi, fobith 
is ann roloing ior a biud ^ {or a lind, co mba mesca medarciall- 
mar do lind, do loim, do eanbruithi, do iasc. Doluid iaram ior 
baili[g]ud meraigthe,^ co riacht in loch ^ coram-baidedh^ ann, 
comdi desin adb^rar Loch nDechet, ut fabule fer[u]nt. 
Doluid Decet ior bai[th]chai, 
iar tomailt a loingthe lae, 
ior buaidri, cen gairi nglecc* 
corom-baidea Loch nDecet. 
Unde ~L.och nDechet dicitur. 

Dechet, the r(3/>^-builder of Glass, son of Cass, erected Suide 
Aeda (" Aed's Seat") over Ess Ruaid ("Ruad's Cataract"). After 
he had done his work for Aed the Red, son of Badurn, son of 
Maine Milscothach, he demanded the price of his work, to wit, 
the produce of the cataract.^ Aed gave it to him, lest the men 
of Connaught should have a quarrel about the produce of Ess 
Ruaid. For that reason the tower was erected by the Children 
of AiliU. 

He, Dechet, was (still) demanding the wage for the work he 
had done. There was given to him (the land) as far as Mag 
Lunga, that is, as far as the Plain of Eating {ioingthe) (so called), 
because it was there that he consumed his food and his drink, 
until he was drunk and merry-minded with ale, with milk, with 
broth, with fish. Then he went into a frenzy of madness till he 
reached the lough, and was drowned therein. Hence, as stories 
tell. Lough Dechet is (so) called. 

Dechet went on a foolish path. 
After consuming his day's provisions ; 
In confusion, without delight of conflicts, 
So that Lough Dechet drowned him. 
Hence " Loch nDechet" is said. 

Also in LL. 167 a 14 ; BB. 388 a 45 ; H. 47 a ; Lee. 491 a ; and R. 114 a 2. 

Loch tiDechef, Four Masters, A.U. 1256 — Lock Techel (now Lough Gara, 
CO. Roscommon) in the Tripartite Life, 142. 

Ess Riiaid, the salmon-leap at Rallyshannon. 

"The Children of Ailill", the inhabitants of Tfr Ailella, now Tirerrill, a barony 
in the co. of Sligo. 

Mag Lunga, perhaps the Magh Lunge near Ballaghadereen in Mayo, men- 
tioned in the Annals of the Four Masters, A.D. 671. 

1 MS. Xoxad 2 ]vis. meraidche. ^ baidegh. * MS. glicc. 

^ /.^., the salmon there caught, not "the ford-dues", as Prof. Atkinson 

The Bodleian Diniishenchas. 497 

[32. Loch Con.] — Loch Con, canas rohainmni[g]cdh ? 
Ni a7isa .1. coin [Manannain] Mrt/c Lir 3 conairt Modh o tait 
Insi Modh, co comrancatar^ immon muicc rocriathair (.1. rofasaig) 
a tir impu .1. Insi Modh. Mani etraintis in choin in muicc ropad 
chriathar lea-^ co hAlbain [. i.] ropad fassach. Roleblaing [in 
mucc is]in loch risna conu. Cengsat in choin 'na^ degaidh. 
Ro[du]s-immart doib f<?rsind loch, 3 ni td?nia cu i mbethaid uaidi 
cen tescad ~] cen badudh. Doluid in mucc iarsin cosin n-insi fil 
[forsin loch]. Unde^ Loch Con ^ Muic-inis. 

Cuanairt Manannain nifi/c Lir 
ocus cuanairt Modh'^ mormir 
ros-mudaig muc dia gibis'^ 
ic Loch Con, ic Muicc-inis. 
The hounds of Manannan mac Lir and the hounds of Mod, from 
whom Insi Mod are named, met together around the pig that 
devastated the land about them, even Insi Mod. Unless the 
hounds had come between them and the pig it would have been 
a criathar as far as Albion, that is, it would have been a desert. 
The pig sprang before the hounds into the lake. The dogs 
rushed after it. It pressed them together on the lough, and not a 
hound escaped from it alive without mangling and without 
drowning. After that the pig went to the island which is on the 
lough. Hence Loch Con (" Lake of the Hounds") and Muicc- 
inis ("Pig-island"). 

The hounds of Manannan mac Lir, 
And the hounds of Mod the very swift, 
A pig destroyed them with its maw (?) 
At Lough Con, at Muicc-inis. 

Also in LL. 167 a 30